(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am, 9:00am & 5:00pm)
13 July 2014
(Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Ps 64; Rom 8:18-23; Mt 13:1-23)
A commentary I read some years ago on today’s Gospel always sticks in my head. The writer pictured the scene: Jesus gets into a boat because of the crowds. The people all stand on the beach, and Jesus talks to them. From Jesus’ vantage point, quite possibly he could see a farmer in the field, sowing seed. That sight becomes the springboard for what he says.
With our modern ears, when we hear of sowing seed, we probably imagine a machine doing the job with great accuracy. Modern farmers can probably even give you data on the number of seeds planted, and the success rate. But what Jesus saw was more likely a man carrying a bag of seed over his shoulder, walking along the field, throwing the seed out. We might say, almost wastefully, not seeming to care where it goes.
Such an image naturally gives rise to the parable that Jesus tells: with all the different things that happens to the seed when thrown out in such a way as that. Jesus says that this is how God sends out the word of His kingdom.
There is a lavishness, a generosity, to some minds a “wastefulness” in the way God sends out his word to the earth. Jesus says elsewhere that his Father causes the sun to rise on good and bad people alike; and the rains to fall on the just and unjust. We see in this God’s desire for all people to be saved. For all people to turn to him. And yet, as Jesus points out, the reality is that many are called, few are chosen.
God sends out his word to the earth liberally, generously, freely. Just imagine that seed been thrown out into the wind. And yet, where will it land? On what type of soil. And this is where our contribution comes in. God’s word is always full of power, always effective IF it has some opening to get into our hearts.
God is the greatest respecter of our freedom. Just look around! God doesn’t force. Pope Benedict said in a homily on this Gospel: “It is necessary that each person freely accept the truth of the love of God. He is Love and Truth, and love as well as truth never impose themselves: They knock on the door of the heart and mind and, where they enter, bring peace and joy. This is the way God reigns; this is his plan of salvation.” … Love as well as truth never impose themselves.
Jesus told us that he and the Father wish to make their home in us. We’re reminded that Jesus stands at the door of our heart and knocks. St Ambrose writes: “Open your heart, meet the sun of eternal light that enlightens every man. That true light indeed shines on all; but if anyone has closed his windows, he will rob himself of the eternal light. Christ too is shut out if you close the door of your mind. Although he is able to enter, he does not wish to rush in uninvited. He does not wish to force the reluctant.”
And so we have the parable of today’s Gospel. The state of the “soil” of our heart and soul play a part in whether God’s word is able to bear fruit in us, and to what extent.
I think a wonderful piece of Good News is that the sower of the seed of God’s Word doesn’t stop sowing. That seed is constantly being thrown out. Even if we might have blocked the seed of God’s word in the past, even if it might have been carried off because we didn’t understand it, God gives us time to cultivate the soil of our hearts. God’s word is continually being presented to us … the sacred liturgy opens up the treasures of the scriptures. God’s word comes to us in the teachings of the church, faithfully interpreting the Word of the scriptures and the living tradition of faith.
There’s no reason why God’s word can’t produce the fruit in us that God intends: thirty, sixty even a hundredfold. But God doesn’t force us – He respects our freedom. Jesus doesn’t rush into our hearts uninvited or force himself on the reluctant. We need to till the soil of our hearts. Sunday Mass, frequent reception of Holy Communion and the other sacraments especially the Sacrament of Penance. Our daily prayers. Our reading of scripture, our learning the treasures of our faith. Our daily practicing of Christian virtues – all of these things prepare our hearts and minds to receive the seed of God’s word, and prepare the conditions for that seed to take root, and to bear the fruit God intends. May our celebration of Mass tonight encourage us on this journey and help each of be the saints of the current day that God calls us to be.