July 10, 2011
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
This parable about the sower of seeds is the first of seven parables that
Matthew placed in the center of his gospel. Each of the parables adds a specific
dimension to the reality that Matthew has described in the previous two
chapters: although there are disciples who have begun to believe in him, Jesus
is experiencing much rejection.
In the parable, the sower goes out and sows a great amount of seed. For various
reasons much of the seed does not come to fruition. However, some of the seed
that fell on rich soil produces an extraordinary amount of fruit.
The disciples then ask Jesus why he speaks in parables. Jesus, quoting a
prophecy of Isaiah, enigmatically replies that parables both reveal and conceal
the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Many, even though they hear the words of
a parable, refuse to recognize the voice of divine wisdom calling them to
conversion of heart and to healing.
Matthew concludes this section by having Jesus amplify the parable of the sower
by transforming the meaning of the seed from the word which initiates life in
the kingdom, to the person who is called to life in the kingdom. Some persons
hear the word without understanding its deeper meaning; some receive it, but
fall away when tribulation comes; some hear it, but worldly anxiety and greed
choke off the life it gives; some hear the word, understand it, and bear an
extraordinary amount of fruit.
Jesus tells us the good news that the seeds of God's kingdom have been
abundantly sown everywhere in the world. Despite all the violence and despair
that threaten us, we can live in hope. God's kingdom has already come, will
continue to grow, and will ultimately triumph. Henry David Thoreau remarked:
"Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."
The human-divine mystery of God's kingdom means that we cannot grasp its meaning
as we do the realities of this world. It is only in the humble attitude of
prayer that we may receive the gift of faith's understanding and conversion of
heart. " . . . although you [Father] have hidden these things from the wise and
the learned you have revealed them to the childlike" (Mt 11:25).
Jesus warns us that even if we have heard his word, worldly anxiety or greed can
destroy our Christian life. Today, in our celebration of the Eucharist we pray
that the Spirit will grant us faithful perseverance in living according to
Christ's word so that God's kingdom will flourish beyond measure.
Campion P. Gavaler, OSB