July (15) 16, 2017
15th Sunday in Ord Time
Sat 4:30 pm & Sun 8 am
Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23
A Devout Catholic lady who had to fly frequently for work. But she was very nervous every time she flew so she would bring he bible with her and read it to help her relax…One time, skeptical man next to her, chuckle & smirk…After a while, “You don’t really believe that stuff do you?” Lady, “Of course I do. It’s God’s Word.” Man, “How did Jonah survive all that time inside the whale?!!” Lady, “I don’t really know but I will ask him when I get to heaven.” Man sarcastically, “What if he’s not in heaven?” Lady, “Well then you ask him!”
The focus of this Sunday’s readings is very obvious which is the power and purpose of the Word of God. The Word of God (Sacred Scripture) is so powerful (why) because it is Jesus. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Jesus is the written Word and He is the spoken or proclaimed Word. That’s why it is so powerful. And we as Catholic Christians must know the Word and we must allow it to affect our lives. St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” The way to get to know Jesus more intimately is through His holy Word…The scriptures are food for our soul. They are God’s love letters to each of us. Just as we must eat physical food daily for the nourishment of our bodies we must also eat and consume the Word of God daily for the nourishment of our spirits, our minds and our hearts.
We need to read and meditate on God’s Word daily but we must read it holistically (meaning as a whole & within context). And we must read and understand it within the Tradition and teaching of the Catholic Church.
The first reading from Isaiah Chapter 55 is one of the most beautiful references to the Word of God ever written. (*Read 1st from Lectionary)…The Word of God is effective. Just as the rain & snow come down from the heavens to produce fruit on the earth the Word of God comes down from Heaven to produce fruit in those who receive it. When we read and meditate on God’s Word it feeds our spirit, it changes our heart, it guides us and inspires us to live the Gospel and to spread the Good News. But just as when there is a drought (no rain or snow) it brings about famine and hardship in the same way when the Word of God is not received it brings about a spiritual drought, spiritual famine and spiritual death.
The Word of God will have a powerful effect on our lives if we allow it to. It will bring about conversion to the mind of Christ. The heart of the RCIA process (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is the Sunday readings, the Word of God. In the RCIA process there are no books or lesson plans. The study material is the Sunday readings. And it is the readings (God’s Word) that brings about conversion of heart and mind. I have been part of the RCIA team for many years and I have personally witnessed conversion and transformation in many, many people by and through God’s holy Word…I have always believed that the RCIA process is a perfect model for the entire parish to follow. All of us should be meditating on the Sunday readings in addition to the daily readings which will no doubt bring about conversion because as the Lord said in Isaiah, “So shall my Word be that goes forth from my mouth, my Word shall not return to me void.” In other words, God’s Word when received will have effect!
And that brings us to the Gospel and the Parable of the Sower. The seed that is sowed represents the Word. The Sower of the seed represents Jesus and also us. And the soil that the seed falls upon represents the hearts of men and women. So let’s look at 2 things: (1) the soil (hearts) and (2) the sower of the seed.
First, the soil (heart). There are 4 types of soil that the Word can fall on according to Jesus in the Gospel. Which one are you? 1) The Path – hardened. They hear the Word of God without understanding it and the evil one steals it away. 2) Rocky ground – shallow. They receive the Word with joy but it has no root. When tribulation or persecution come they fall away. 3) Among thorns – distracted. They hear and receive the Word but the world and material things choke it off and it bears no fruit. 4) Rich soil – receptive, humble, obedient. They hear the Word, obey it, live it and it bears good fruit.
Which one are you? I don’t know about you but to speak for myself I am all of them at different times. Of course I want to be only the rich soil but at times I am like the other three. To be the rich soil, a heart that is receptive and obedient to God’s word takes persistence, dedication and faith. And it takes prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a fertile heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand. The Word was written in the Spirit so it must be read in the Spirit. And ask the Spirit to help you believe and to live the Word of God and He most definitely will.
Now let’s look at the sower of the seed (Word). First to sow the seed you must have the seed right? We can’t give what we don’t have. As disciples of Christ we are all called to sow the seed, to spread the Word as Christ did. The way we do this is having the Word of God inside of us, in our minds and in our hearts and letting the Word come out from us by our words and our deeds. That is within our families, here at Church and out in the world (work, marketplace). Let the effects of God’s Word on us be shared with others around us. Our calling as Catholic Christians is to spread the seed (God’s Word) and then let Him do the rest. Just like the farmer spreads seed and waits for it to sprout we must do the same with the Word of God. We cannot worry or get discouraged when nothing seems to happen. We just do our job and entrust the rest to Christ…Scripture scholars speculate that Jesus told His disciples the Parable of the Sower and the different types of soil to encourage them not to get discouraged about results. Jesus tells us the same. We just do our best to spread the seed and leave the results to God.
So in closing, the Word of God is not the only component of living a strong faith life. Of course there are the Sacraments especially the Eucharist. There is prayer, worship and service. There is fellowship with other believers and there is Stewardship, the sharing of our time, talent and treasure. No the Word of God is not the only component of our faith but it is a very important part of it…As Catholic Christians must know the Word and we must allow it to affect our lives and those around us. As Catholics we are people of the Word. Did you know that if we attended mass every Sunday and weekday we would hear the entire bible in 3 years. But it is most effective if we read the readings before mass so we can better understand and it will soak deep into us. Also, every person in the house should own their own personal bible, their own personal love letter from God so they can mark it up, highlight it and make notes in it. If your bible is covered with dust then it’s time to open it up!
The Word of God helps us get through all different situations good and bad. Especially when you memorize them, stand on and claim that Word. For me a few of my go to verses: Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” From today’s second reading Romans 8:18, I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” And Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always until the end of the age.”
The Word of God is power. It is Jesus Himself. Consume it daily with a fertile heart for the nourishment of your spirit, your mind and your heart. Let it affect you and those around you.
B-i-b-l-e: Basic, Instruction, Before, Leaving, Earth.