For Sunday, July 12, 2020
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 13:1-23 OR 13:1-9
Words can be cheap. We can’t always tell whether people mean what they say until we see them do something about it. There are some people whose word we can trust, but they are very often the exception. For most people, we need to get everything spelled out in writing or in a contract so that we can hold them to it. For most of us, actions are what count, not words.
With God, however, it is different. Because God is truth, His word is trustworthy. Unlike people, God cannot use words to lie or to deceive. God’s words are never empty or meaningless. God means what He says. And what He says has the power to change and to save us.
Sunday’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah describes the power of God’s Word. It is like rain which drenches the ground and feeds the soil, causing vegetation and fruit to grow. Just as the rain gives life to the earth, so God’s Word nourishes our roots and fills us with life.
Isaiah tells us that God’s Word will not come back to Him empty. It will fulfill its purpose. God’s Word will not be frustrated. If we hear God’s Word and take it to heart, it will mean salvation and life for us. If we decide to ignore it and to live our life as if God didn’t exist, we will be judged by that Word.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus compares God’s Word to seeds which a man scatters on the ground. Seeds are tiny. But, when one of them finds the right soil, it can grow into a fruitful tree. Like a seed, God’s Word doesn’t always seem like much. But, when we take it to heart and it finds good soil in us, it has the power to really change us, to give us life, and to make us fruitful.
The image of the seed helps us to understand God’s Kingdom in another way. It grows in our midst silently and slowly. We don’t often notice it from day to day or even from year to year. But, with sure progress, God is laying more of a claim on our hearts and on our society. Just as a seed, once it is planted, has a power within it that drives it to become the tree it is meant to be, so God’s Kingdom, once planted in our world and in our souls by Jesus himself, takes root and spreads its branches slowly but surely throughout all of human history.
As we look at our world, at our Church and at ourselves, we know that we are not all that we could be. We know that as a community and as individuals, we fall short of the high standard that God’s Word has set for us. But we are still in seed form. We are still growing. Just as it takes time for the tiny acorn to become the mighty oak which is sleeping within it, so we are still far off from the glory and the freedom which will be revealed in us as sons and daughters of God. As Saint Paul writes in the second reading, “All creation groans and is in agony awaiting the revelation of the sons and daughters of God.” There is a glory and a freedom sleeping within all of us, growing slowly, leading us to become more fully the women and men God intended us to be.
God tells us so in His Word. It is true, even though we cannot yet see it in all its fullness.
Douglas Sousa, S.T.L.