Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65:10-14 (Luke 8:8); Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23

First Reading: In today’s first reading, Isaiah provides an extended metaphor on the Word of God. Comparing the Word of God to the rain and snow, Isaiah indicates several correlations that enable us to understand the richness of God’s Word.

Psalm 65: Today’s responsorial psalm focuses on God’s rich blessing, especially during harvest time.

Second Reading: In today’s second reading, Paul addresses the suffering that we experience in life, placing it within the context of future hope manifested in the Risen Lord.

Gospel: Today’s long Gospel gives us the familiar parable of the sower followed by Jesus’ explanation of the parable to the disciples. When the disciples ask Jesus why he speaks in parables, he responds in words that are like another parable: “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” The imagery and language of the parable is like a veil, which both conceals and reveals the shape beneath. It is not enough to hear the Word, the seed. We must also be receptive to it, welcoming God’s Word and seeking understanding: when we do this, God opens our minds and grants us wisdom — makes us rich.

Reflection: Are you listening? Matthew 13 is a series of seven parables on the kingdom of heaven, situated at the center of the Gospel. The parable of the sower which begins this chapter is not so much focused on the sower or the seed but rather on different kinds of soil and their receptivity. Matthew is addressing a key concern of his Christian Jewish community, namely why some Jews accepted and other Jews rejected Jesus and his message of the kingdom. The parable is an attempt to explore this mystery.

In the parable, Jesus explains that some are influenced by the evil one, while others are shallow; some are too concerned with worldly affairs, while others seek riches. Those who are open and attuned to Jesus’ message grow in rich soil that produces abundant fruit.

Most of us hear God’s word proclaimed primarily during the Liturgy of the Word on Sundays. It is naïve to think that we can go to Mass cold, without having prepared the readings, and be attuned enough to God’s word to hear and remember the message well enough to live it. One way to deepen our gospel living is to take quality time each week – alone or with others – to sit with God’s word and become attuned to the message. This is how we cultivate our hearts to hear God’s word, so it is not wasted on barren hearts.

Just as God’s word is sown in the proclamation of the word at liturgy, so it is also sown in other and sometimes most unpredictable places and ways. God’s word is sown at the family dinner table where the day’s joys and challenges are shared. God’s word is sown in extending expressions of endearment, in expressing understanding and forgiveness, in speaking encouragement, in challenging injustice. In all these ways, through us, God’s word achieves the end for which it was sent.

The mystery concerning acceptance or rejection of Jesus’ message centers on our willingness to open ourselves to how God is present and acting in the world. It means developing ears that listen attentively and a mind that discerns thoughtfully. Are you listening?

Question for reflection: How am I sowing God’s word in my discipleship? Am I listening attentively to his word? If not, what is preventing me?

Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.

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