SUNDAY 16 July 2017, 15th Sunday Ordinary Time
• Isaiah 55:10-11 • Psalm 65 • Romans 8:18-23 • + Matthew 13:1-23 •
Title: “Parable of the Sower. Daring. Discouragement. Demand”
[__01__] What we read in the Gospel this Sunday is the parable of the sower. This is a setting of agriculture, of farming, of the soil and the earth, of planting and growing wheat or grain.
The sower went out to sow.
And, the parable of the sower is one we might consider in the 3 ways, in a parable of …
[► 1st DARING]
[► 2nd DISCOURAGEMENT]
[► 3rd DEMAND ]
[* * * pause * * *]
[__02__] [► 1st DARING] If you or were on a dare, we would then be crossing a boundary in some way. To accept a dare or a risk is not only something we do out of dishonesty or greed.
It is also daring, risky, to spread the Word of God as widely and completely as the sower does in the parable. It may be daring – or it may seem risky – if we let other people know – even in subtle ways of our faith in Jesus Christ and in the Church.
I recall one time, several years ago, when I was staying with some family members for a week and the subject of going to Sunday Mass never came up the entire week. Whether I went to church or did not go to church, they really had no idea. I must admit that I did not – in this case – dare to bring it up.
In the Gospel, Jesus is the sower. He goes within his town, he goes out of town, he goes, at times, beyond the borders of Judaism and Israel to sow the seed.
He sows the seed everywhere, resembling the planter or landscaper who wants to cover every patch of earth with the plants or the grass. Yes, some will end up on the path. Some will be rejected, or eaten by the birds.
He pushes the border, the boundary, even if it gets him into trouble.
But he also does not force the Word on anyone, his Gospel on anyone.
He is taking the risk, he is not forcing anyone else to take a risk or do something they do not want to do.
This is his dare, his daring. It is also ours … refer to 2 Corinthians 4 _ à
[* * * pause * * *]
[__03__] [► 2nd DISCOURAGEMENT]
Jesus, as the sower of the seed, also indicates that there will be discouraging moments, disappointments that we will face.
And, in this case, he is not simply referring to the discouragement of poor performance, or the discouragement of a particular failure.
Rather, we might consider how we interpret, how we think about such setbacks or discouragements. And, how do we receive the discouragement we encounter from another person.
For example, I recall a difficult class that I took in college in which I started out with a score of 56 on the first test.
This was discouraging. This was not because the teacher said or did anything. He just wrote 56 and handed me the test. He did not write … good job … or you can do better or anything.
It was just a number.
I was, at that moment, ready to pack it in.
When I told my parents about it, I was simply told… “we are already paying the tuition, we are not paying for you go to summer school.” This was also discouraging.
I was kind of getting psyched out.
Finally, a friend of mine urged me to go and see the professor for extra help. This was the encouragement that I needed amid the thorns, and amid the very shallow roots of my own confidence about the situation.
This is just an example. I am suggesting, then, that the thorns that hinder us are not the failure …but our reactions to the failures…or, at times, what other people communicate to us – intentionally or unintentionally.
Discouragements will happen. They are thorns, they grow naturally, sometimes in abundance.
[__04__] [► 3rd DEMAND ]
Every commitment we make will involve some daring (some risk) and some discouragement.
Knowing this about our lives, Jesus – as our Savior and Lord – also makes a DEMAND, a REQUEST of us.
That is, we are called to immerse ourselves, to bury ourselves in his word.
What enables the seed to grow? The environment of the earth and soil enables the seed to grow.
Yes, there will be discouragements, disappointments. There will be thorns.
However, because the seed is buried in the earth, it can grow.
Families, mothers, fathers, are the soil for their children.
And, throughout our lives, we need the love of both God and neighbor as this soil.
In this regard, we can also dare to be generous as Jesus was, to forgive as Jesus did, even to dare and risk to lay down our lives for each other.