The Bishops Homily – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

15th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Cycle A | 16 July 2017
Is. 55: 10-11
Rom. 8: 18-23
Mt. 13: 1-23

INTRODUCTION: Our Gospel for this Sunday is Matthew’s version of the great Parable of the Sower.

(1) The Background of the Parable: We are told: “Jesus… sat by the lakeside, but such great crowds gathered round him.” (v. 1) This is representative of the hunger of people for God’s word. They sense the power of God in Jesus and they desperately want it in their hearts. So it is still today. We all want to listen to him, even those who avow themselves to be atheists. Jesus is described as speaking at great length “in parables” (v. 3) Why in parables and not in straight prosaic language? That is the way poets speak. Poets speak of deep realities in spiritual life, not in direct speech, but in evocative language of metaphors and riddles. Van Gogh’s famous painting of the Sower as Jesus’ Parable depicts a very familiar scene in a farming Country like Israel.

(2) Jesus depicts the Sower thus: “Imagine a Sower going out to sow.” (v. 4) In Jesus’ time, seed was peculiarly expensive and the land, even today, is not very receptive, being arid and dry. Very peculiar about the Sower is his very liberal, almost wasteful and prodigal, way of sowing, even on bad soil. He spreads the seed far and wide everywhere on soil good and bad: on pathways, on rocks, and among thorns. This is a very important lesson about grace. Grace (in Latin, gratia) is love freely given without expectation of return or recompense. A prudent lender will lend to one whom he is sure to pay back, even without interest. That is not love but indirect egotism. True love is kindness and gives without calculating. This is the way God loves. He makes the sun shine on the good and the bad alike. He loves even those who do not love him and that way we become like our Father in heaven. Our love is supposed to mimic the Divine Love. Thank God that he does not love us in a calculating way! It is just the way he is! An apocryphal carries a legend that someone cursed Jesus who offered blessing instead to the scandal of his disciple who complained to him. Jesus said: “That is all what I have in my bag.”

(3) Now let us turn to the Recipients of the Seed and learn more about ourselves:

  • “Some seed fell among the edge of the path and the birds came and ate them up.”(v.4) This refers to the “secularized society.” We are all adept at the language of science, politics, music, etc… but so many of us have given deaf to the language of the spirit. We do not understand this world of the spirit anymore like offering a machine to a child or talking about geopolitics to a first year high. The word of God is spoken to them but so many people just do not understand it anymore. What to do now? Read the Bible, or some good theology, or some spirituality. Open your minds to the spiritual; do not just write it off.
  • “Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away.” (v.5) Many people listen to the word of God but they don’t make it the foundation of their spiritual life. It does not affect the whole of themselves and does not sink deep in themselves. That is like the man who builds his house of his spiritual life on sand. It does not go deep enough!
  • “Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.” (v.6) There are a lot of people who hear the word of God on Sundays, in homilies, etc… but they allow themselves to be preoccupied with allurements of this world so that the word of God does not bear fruit. All of this world pass away; it is the word of God that we should put our hope. It is the only one that lasts!

CONCLUSION: God sows his word wastefully, liberally, and prodigally but we have to listen!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches