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15th SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME 2014

The Parable of the Sower

It is a good year for gardening. Many have gardens that are beginning to produce a lot of vegetables. Last year wasn’t good, but this year it is. I planted some things late and so they are growing but have a ways to go. Anybody who has planted gardens knows that it is delicate work and the conditions have to be right in order to produce fruit. Jesus uses this reality to make a point about preaching the Word of God and those who receive the message. Everyone who he speaks to hears the same words but there are many different reactions to what is spoken. Some just don’t get it. Others misinterpret it. Others are inspired for about five minutes until they forget about it. And with others there is a more lasting effect. This sort of thing continues to happen today in the parish. Everyone hears the same words yet there are different responses: Some hear it like they hear a commercial on the radio and simply tune out. Others completely reject the message. Some have an enthusiastic response but later forget about it. Some respond more fully and vibrantly and try to apply it to their lives. It all depends on the condition of our hearts. Some come Mass sometimes and are present in body but are not really listening. While others come seeking for God’s guidance and so listen with more attentive hearts.

And Jesus does not always speak directly. He often uses parables which are simple stories that have a profound meaning. They are like poems that have a secret message that can’t be understood unless it is deeply pondered with a humble heart. But they are simple that even children can understand them. You can tell stories to children and they will remember them for the rest of their lives. So in order to hear the message of God we need the humility of children. That is why Jesus said last Sunday that God has hidden himself from the wise and learned and revealed himself to the “little ones.”

As adults who live in a fast paced world, we want things quick and easy. We don’t want to take time to ponder things, or to pray or meditate. That is why so many are missing the message of Christ in their lives today. We don’t want things too complicated or that takes effort on our part. It is like the deference between a woman who attracts a man by wearing little clothing and one who dresses modestly to preserve her dignity and so it takes more effort on the part of the man to be attracted to her mind and her heart. The first may find someone quicker but which relationship will bear the fruit of true lasting love? It is the difference between someone who tells silly or dirty jokes to get laughs and someone who writes beautiful love songs that enter the heart. The point is that through parables Jesus is inviting us to enter into his divine mystery, into his Kingdom, and not just live for this earthly realm. So we need to put a little effort into hearing his message.

Is the message of Jesus entering your heart? Is it bearing fruit in your life? Often this has to do with where you are at in your life, what path you are following. Jesus said that some seed fell on the path but was eaten by birds. This was a symbol of the devil stealing the word from their hearts. I think of people who rarely or never come to Mass, or those who work in the business world where there is no room for mention of God, or in sports or entertainment where is seems like the devil has a firm hold and so the Christian message has no place. I think our public schools are turning into these types of environments where the path is too hard for God’s word to take root and the devil steals any mention of morality, truth or virtue.

Then there is the seed sown in the rocks. It is like those who might have been inspired by Jesus but when they experienced rejection for their beliefs or realize that it means a change of lifestyle, then they easily lose their inspiration. I can think of those who when they were young believed in Christ and prayed to God, but then as they become young adults the pressure of immorality around friends at school or at parties causes them to lose faith. Or those who believe in God but when faced with moral challenges to purity they fall away. Next week is Natural Family Planning awareness week, a time to encourage Catholics to discover the Church’s teaching on fertility and not be afraid to live it, even though, everyone else in the world pressures us to do otherwise. There are many other examples. What is the rocky ground in your Christian walk?

We can also allow our life to be filled with all kinds of false anxieties. It is like the seed in the thorns which represents those who believe in God but never have a vibrant Christian life of growing a family or never serve at the church or tithe or help the poor or follow the Church’s teaching on fertility because they are so worried about what it will cost them. They are so preoccupied with worldly things that they do not trust the providence of God. That is why Jesus says: “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” The more we worry about things in the world the less we will hear and understand about the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven that we begin to experience in this life: peace, joy, courage.

Probably all of us here have experienced some or all of these stages that Jesus describes in our Christian life. It is a mystery of why some hear the message and it changes their lives while others have little or no reaction. It is a mystery that moms and dads teach their children the truth, teach them how to pray, read the bible to them, teach all of them the Catholic Faith by word and example, and some grow up believing and continue to follow the Church, while others grow up and turn away from the Church, stop going to Mass, live for the world. It is because we all have our own hearts. We learn to live for ourselves or we learn to open our hearts and to the living Word of God.

And so today we listen once again to the words of Jesus. His words and the teachings of his Church are like seeds being planted in our souls. Be honest with yourself and with God. Are you letting someone or something steal his words of encouragement from you? Is there some immorality that is preventing the seed of his truth from taking root in your life so to grow into lasting joy? Is there anxiety at work or in your family or worry about money that is making you afraid to live the Christian life? Put those aside and let the word of God enter your heart and find fertile ground to grow. Then your life will become like a fruitful garden that nourishes others who are seeking God in this troubled world. Let it be so. Amen

Father Timothy Gallagher

7-11-14

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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