15th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME(A) July 12, 2020
Isaiah 55: 10-11 Psalm 65 Romans 8: 18-23 Matthew 13:1-23
By: Jude Siciliano, OP
Here I come again, hat in hand. These days have been difficult for so many. I know many of you are under severe financial stress. We here at the priory are doing what most of you are doing – staying in place. And like you, our resources have suffered.
We are expecting five novices to join us in August to begin their Dominican studies and preparation for the priesthood. Would you like to support them and help us prepare for their arrival?
If so, send tax deductible checks to:
Dominican Friars of Irving
3150 Vince Hagan Dr.
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
Or: For an online donation go to:https://www.preacherexchange.com/donations.htm
We pray for our benefactors daily and will do that for you.
When I was young, if you asked someone if they did windows, people didn’t automatically think of the Microsoft kind. They knew you meant glass windows. A while back, when we had friends volunteer to help us straighten up the house they jokingly said, "But we don’t do windows!" And I responded, "But I do." I like doing windows. You apply a good window spray to the surface, crumble a few pages from an old newspaper and wipe it clean. (I learned the newspaper method a long time ago from my mother, who said it gave a nice shine, and saved on paper towels.)
I like doing windows because you get good, immediate and tangible results – you have the dirt and soot of "the before" and, in a brief time, you have the neat, squeaky clean of "the after." Windows, mirrors, windshields, hand them over, I’ll get to work on them and, after I am finished, I will step back and admire my work. I see the results before me....NOW!
After all, how many areas of our lives can we say we have such predictability, control and clear positive results? Are you like me and like at least some things in your life to be predictable...within your grasp...under your control...providing you with a sense of order, accomplishment and being in charge? Hasn’t the pandemic and its threat to our lives shown us how fragile we are? When you come right down to it, we are not in control. We are reminded that any control we exert over our existence is illusionary, or minimal indeed. It is, at best temporary, for eventually something happens to remind us we are not in charge. We are reminded of this during these pandemic days. All of a sudden we, or someone we know, begin to ache all over, develop a fever and have trouble breathing. How uncertain and out of control our lives can be. The ground we stand on is not as secure as it may seem
The sower in today’s parable lives in a world of chance; one would even say, chaos. At first glance his future doesn’t look encouraging. The work that occupies his day is not a hobby. He is not spending leisure time planting a backyard herb garden. This is vital business he is about. He will have to feed his wife, children and maybe, his extended family, from the fruit of this sowing. The crowd that gathers to hear this parable could well identify with the daily struggle to survive.
Yet, he seems to be careless, even wasteful, in his sowing. Plus, outside forces are lined up against him. The parable spells it out in vivid detail: some seed fell on the path and was gobbled up by hungry birds; some seed fell on rocky ground that had no depth and soon perished under the punishing sun; other see fell among thorns and had the life choked out of them. In this sowing, 3 out of 4 castings were wasted; only a part of the seed landed on good soil. This farmer doesn’t appear to be having a very good day.
We do not know when this pandemic will end; when and if we will return to our accustomed lives. We can identify with the farmer’s life struggle: the waste of good effort; the loss of what we can’t afford to lose; the unpredictable nature of life; the turn of events that might spell the difference between having enough to eat and going without...for some, maybe even starving. The dice are tossed and we just might come up losing.
But the last part of the sowing turns the story on its head. When ordinary farmers of the day would have expected 8, 10 or 15 fold from a planting, Jesus says the last part of the sowing yields a 100, 60 or 30 fold! "Impossible!" would have been the response of any experienced farmer. The yield would have been beyond the wildest dreams of any farmer hearing this parable. At first glance, what looks like a disaster can, nevertheless, yield a surprise. It is obvious Jesus sees another factor at work in our lives. He addresses the crowds around him and us too, "Let everyone heed what he or she hears."
It is as if he is saying. "Pay close attention, you may think you have evidence for your negative expectations, but look more closely at your lives and see a possibility for hope." We can put confidence in God, despite signs to the contrary. The Word that is planted in our spirits can bear enormous and surprising results during these pandemic days of testing. The odds seemed against the sower, but there was a surprise element in the story and the result was a harvest beyond human expectation.
There’s a second message for us who have "ears to hear" this parable. Jesus is speaking to crowds. He is the sower casting his words to anyone who would hear him. He is sowing his word recklessly, so it seems, to many who will not accept it. But some few will, a seeming insignificant group – at first. Those who accept his words can’t be measured by the world’s standard of success; they don’t have power, or the influence in the towns and cities where they live; they aren’t the wheeler dealers, the movers and shakers. They may even hear people say to them, "Well, a lot of good your faith does you...you lost your job, you got sick, your son or daughter is a failure."
But what seems like a small, fragile seed of faith in our lives, will yield a rich and a surprising harvest of: strength, when we normally would have been weak; hope, despite painful events that would have caused discouragement; faith, in the face of powerful forces lined up against us that make us feel small and fragile. We are the disciples who heed Jesus’ word – and we trust. Despite appearances, we continue to work on Jesus’ dream for the world; we continue to look for the surprises that show us that someone else’s hand is in ours, working to bring to harvest what has been planted.
As I said, I like to do windows. It is a neat, orderly and predictable labor. As for the rest of life: so far from predictable; so less orderly; so less efficient. I will trust that, despite appearances, some things are going to work out – some day. Some good seed sown will sprout and harvest beyond expectation, beyond our wildest dreams. It won’t be measurable in dollars and cents, but rather, in the deep parts of our lives where real life is. After all, the One who tells us this parable today, knows our God will see to a harvest.
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