15th Sunday in O.T. (A); July 13, 2014
Is 55:10-11 Ps 65 Rom 8:18-23 Mt 13:1-23
Deacon Jim McFadden; Folsom Prison
(God sends his Word into each of our hearts liberally. He does not solely give his grace to those he knows will bear fruit. He sows the Word in everyone, but it does not flourish for each person due to circumstances. We can strive to counter the obstacles by letting the Word open us to the implications that Jesus is Lord and Savior. God is always giving himself to us; so, we just have to listen.)
Today’s Gospel is about the great parable of Matthew’s version of the Sower. On Matthew’s telling Jesus goes to the Sea of Galilee where he attracts enormous crowds, which represent our hunger for God because that’s how we’re wired: we’re made in the image of God and, as St. Augustine so famously put it, our hearts will be forever restless until they rest in Him. The crowds sense the power in Jesus and they desperately want to receive His Word in their hearts. And, today, that still goes with us. We’re all wired for God. So, we listen.
Matthew notes that Jesus “spoke to them at length in parables” (Mt 13:13a), which is a typical literary form he used to teach. Why did he use parables; why didn’t he use straight-forward language? Why did he teach this round-about way with riddles and puzzles? It can be frustrating because we want to know what he means. Jesus often teaches by way of stories because that’s how he can get to the underlying reality of the Kingdom of God. So, he uses parables for a purpose. So, what is he trying to teach us?
Let’s start with the Sower, who spreads the seed far and wide on soil that’s good and bad: on the path, on rocky ground, among the thorns, and finally, on good soil. In other words, he is spreading the seeds everywhere. Later on, which is unusual, Jesus explains the parable, comparing the seeds to the ‘word of the Kingdom of God’ (namely, grace), which means the Sower is God. God spreads his grace, his Love without expecting anything in return or reimbursement. He’s not into ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ way of relating to people. God is simply prodigal, liberal, extravagant in the way He loves us. In the Sermon of the Mount, He says that God “makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust (Mt 5:45bc). We, on the other hand, do just the opposite: we share our “sun” with our homeys, those who might be good or useful to me. But, those who may be a threat, who might do me or my group harm, I keep my “sun” from them.
I know what you may be thinking: “Deacon, that’s not how prison life functions; you’ve got to get real.” Well, I am being Real because Jesus not only speaks the Truth, He is the Truth (!) because He is God in the flesh. Unless we live according to His Word inside and outside these walls, we’ll be lost, frustrated, unfulfilled, and joyless.
So now it is our turn to put ourselves in the story. When we hear God’s word, do we even give it the time of day to try to understand what God is telling us? Do we give God even a slight chance to be heard? Does God get pushed out, because we have bought into our society and culture which tries to exist without God?
The seeds that are thrown on the path are the ones who hear the Word of God, but are completely clueless; so, the Evil One comes and steals what was sown in his heart. There are some people in our society that simply don’t understand the language of spirituality or theology. They are tone deaf. So, when they hear the Good News, it just doesn’t seem real.
If that’s us, what should we do? Start reading the Bible. Get a good biblical commentary. Read some good spirituality and theology. Open up the Catechism of the Catholic Church with a guide. Begin to open the mind and heart to the spiritual dimension of reality; otherwise, you won’t take in this language.
Then we hear that “The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it with joy. But, he has no root and lasts only for a time” (vs 20-21a). Sometimes we hear God’s Word, we get all excited, we want to believe it, but, we don’t make the Word the foundation of our lives. It just stays on the surface; we don’t allow it to take deep root in our hearts and souls where we gradually become conformed to God’s love.
Then there’s the third category in which the Word “fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it” (v. 7). Are we like the ones who hear God’s Word and we truly believe? Indeed, we may be well versed in spirituality, theology, and catechesis. But, then we get caught up in our problems and worries. We get seduced by the allurements of our environment so that the Word does not bear fruit. Jesus says that “you are either for me or against me.” Similarly, He says that “we can’t serve God and mammon.” We have to make a choice. Sadly, we often choose God-substitutes.
Brothers, keep in mind that everything in this world, everything that seems so important eventually passes away. The only thing that lasts is the Word of God—which is His gracious Love. Since you have an immortal soul, listen to your deepest desire which seeks complete communion with God and fellowship with others. If you do, you’ll unite with what is eternal, in which you begin to participate in God’s eternal Life now and forever! I pray everyday for your well-being. I pray that you are the ones who hear God’s word and do everything to make it alive in our life and to share it with others. That’s a life worth living!
There you have it: where do you think you fall? Where would you be if you were in the field?
What I like about this parable is that I don’t think Jesus was telling it to make us feel bad about ourselves. I believe He was showing us how prodigal God, the Sower. Is. He doesn’t scatter Himself just among the good and perfect. Thank goodness! He scatters Himself everywhere. He wants EVERYONE to know and love Him. It is not up to us judge ourselves worthy or not; He just wants in. He wants us to come into our hearts and fill our hearts with his Love that he gives each of us ALL THE TIME, ALWAYS, AND WITHOUT CONDITIONS. How amazing it that?
So whenever we get down on ourselves, whenever there seems to be a drought, we can’t be too hard on ourselves. Yes, we do not want to sin, to turn away from God, but in any case God is there with us. We need to turn to him, ask for his grace to be good; to do better. God never abandons us. He will continually be sowing his grace wildly, extravagantly, even wastefully. He loves us so AND he respects our freedom to love Him in return. Along with our Blessed Mother and through her intercession, may we say “Yes” to God’s love!