Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time A
July 12, 2020
Matthew 13: 1-23
By Rev. John Tran
We usually consider this gospel in terms of how the good news is received by those who are hearing it for the first time, or concerning the need for new disciples to carry the message to those who have not heard it yet. Today, I would like to consider it from a slightly different point of view.
Let’s consider this passage as a soil test for those who have all ready heard the Word, and perhaps even think of themselves as believers. In other words, it can be a test of how well we live our discipleship, sort of a review.
We can be one of those people who received the word on the edge of the path; then we skirt the real issues, and are eager for any distraction that comes by; and are disciples of surface commitment and no depth. Or, our lives can be on rocky soil: then we are enthusiastic at one moment, wanting a quick fix, but lose interest when the demands of the Gospel mean putting down roots in the darkness full of rocky obstacles, and waiting patiently in that darkness for further growth. Or instead, we may offer a patchy, thorn-infested, halfhearted welcome to the seed of the Word, we may have potential for growth, but we are shaky in our response when we get involved with self-seeking concerns, or indifferent to what the Word means, and the seed does not mature and bear fruit. And finally, there are times when we are ‘good soil’ for the seed; then, we welcome the Word into our hearts, obey and witness to the Word. Then God enables us to bear a fruitful harvest and allow the Kingdom to grow.
In may happen that we may be any one of these things at different times as the years or even weeks go by. But today, how do I measure up? The fundamental thing is that we can always turn around and embrace the Word as good soil at any time; we can also always become better soil as we grow closer to Our Lord and embrace him deep within ourselves. It is never too late to change or grow. The Lord constantly calls to us and allows us to refocus and turn closer to him.
As we do grow closer, we become God's instrument in ways we could never imagine, and may never know. We may sow a seed that has great impact on a person, and becomes the opportunity for that person to begin that life-long struggle with the seed. A Protestant minister made the following observation about this gospel:
“Two days ago I was still jotting down notes for this sermon. I thought about how you can't tell the state of a person's heart just by looking at her. So you throw a little "seed" her way, and you get one of four responses. One, the seed gets snatched away before it takes root.
Two, it takes root quickly but doesn't last long. Three, it takes root, but other things choke it out. Or four, I wrote, she becomes Mother Teresa.
Can you believe that less than two hours after I wrote that I got on the bus headed downtown and, there, riding the bus, the only two other passengers were two women dressed in the familiar habit of Mother Teresa's order, the Missionaries of Charity. I must have stared at them, but I couldn't help wondering who it was that scattered the seed of the Gospel on the soil of their hearts, and I wondered if that person had any idea, when he or she did it, that that seed would find such good soil there, that it would take such deep root and produce such abundant fruit. I looked at their faces. They were so young. And I thought, "If I had seen them at the mall dressed in blue jeans and t-shirts, I might not have picked them. I might have picked someone else." All the more reason then to be reckless in my scattering of seed, to be less concerned about efficiency than extravagance, to throw it everywhere I can in the hope that somewhere, somehow, it will find good soil. The truth is that someone was reckless enough to scatter the seed of the Word where you
could hear it; and in some of you, especially, it has found good soil, and taken deep root, and yielded thirty-, or sixty-, or a hundredfold.”
What a blessing it is that Jesus was reckless when he scattered the seed of the Word.
Whether we are talking about those who are hearing the Word for the first time, or for those
who are constantly struggling with the meaning of the Word we have heard for years, there
is the opportunity to renew the direction we are taking on our journey to God. In this
growth, we have impact on others as they make their journey to the Father. When we are reckless in scattering the seed, our struggle with the seed of God's word in our lives takes on new meaning with the influence we can have on our brothers and sister traveling the pathJesus has invited us to travel. And so Jesus has his influence on us, who are his disciples.