15th Sunday - homily
I would like to offer a guided meditation on today’s Gospel almost as if we were on retreat and taking a step back on our relationship with God. This parable – the parable of the sower – is often used on retreats as a way to look at our relationship with God and see where we are and have been. Whenever we come to Mass or even enter into prayer, it is like a retreat in the sense that we take a break from the busy-ness of our everyday lives. We see if we’ve been hearing what God has been saying to us or if we’ve ever heard him speaking to us. If we haven’t, then we try to see why not. It is an opportunity for us to see if we are doing God’s Will which is we are here in the first place.
The parable of the sower helps us to see if we hear the word of God and understand it. The sower is God, the seed is the word of God, and the soil is us. The parable teaches us that God speaks to all because his seed goes to all areas. So, He is speaking to me to each one of us; the question is, then, is each one of us hearing Him? If not, why not? Jesus offers three reasons why not.
First, it could be the Devil or demons who have stolen the word of God from our lives just like birds would steal seed from a path. Second, we might be careless or uncommitted in hearing the word of God like someone who is careless in allowing soil to become rocky ground; we just might not care about hearing the word of God. Third, thorns might choke the word in our lives; Jesus says these are worldly anxieties or riches. Are there thorns in my life? If so, what are they?
Most of us were raised Catholic. We heard the word of God growing up from our parents, priests, and teachers. And, we lived it; even if it was by rote, we lived the word of God. Then, as we got older, we met the world and its riches. In high school, it was popularity or acceptance. In college and in the business world, it was success, money, power, fame, possessions, or pleasure. Have these things choked the word of God in our lives? If we doubt whether the things of this world are opposed to Christ, then we only need to look at one image from our Lord’s passion: the world choked the head of Christ with a crown of thorns. The riches of this world can choke the word of God like thorns in our lives.
The only option for us to bear fruit in our lives, Jesus says, is to hear the word of God and to begin to understand it. It’s the only way to do God’s Will and to find happiness. I’ve known many people who have gone on retreat and heard the word of God with regards to the Eucharist for the first time. They heard the teaching and understood it, and it changed their lives. They understood that the teaching is for real. They understood that the Eucharist is for real. They understood that our faith is for real. The teaching on the Eucharist is a great starting point for us to hear the word of God and to understand it.
When we hear the word of God and begin to understand it, it takes root and bears fruit. This is how we do God’s Will. The first reading says that this is the purpose of our lives on earth. We have been sent to bear fruit. When we hear the word of God, we bear fruit, do God’s Will, thus achieving the end for which we have been sent.