Archbishop Peter A Comensoli preached the following homily at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday 16 July as he blessed and commissioned the almost 600 pilgrims who will be travelling in the coming days and weeks to Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day 2023.

The very first act of creation was a word, spoken by God: (יְהִי אוֹר‎; yehi-or) ‘Let there be light.’ The very first act of re-creation was a word: (Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ) ‘The Word became flesh.’ The very last act of that enfleshed Word was a word: (משלם; Mashelem) ‘It is accomplished.’ And the very last act of God will be a word: (מרנאתא‎; Maran-atha) ‘Come, Lord.’

As the Prophet Isaiah said: Just as the rain falls from heaven to water the earth, so God does not speak a word without doing what it says.

In the parable today, the seed that is scattered in various environments is an image of God’s active and accomplishing word. It produces a crop in every setting, even if the setting is not receptive to what is sown. Life will find a way, and God’s word is life.

This life-giving word of God became the living person of Jesus. To hear his words, and to know his life, is to locate the path for our own lives that will bring us to completion. This is why Jesus breathed on his disciples after the resurrection and said to them: Receive the Holy Spirit.

The word of Christ is the breath of the Holy Spirit. This was the breath breathed by God at creation, and it is the breath of our reconciliation and re-creation. The words spoken out of God’s breath are these: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. We received them at our Confirmation. And the crops that these words might produce in us are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. God’s breath is not wasteful; God’s words are active.

How are God’s words active and growing in us? Do we receive them into a well-watered heart? Are we listeners of His words, spoken in the life of Jesus as life for us? Will we be doers of the Word, as St James directed (James 1:22), or are we drowning out God’s word by the noise around us?

Mary heard the word of God and said yes to it, allowing God’s Word to then grown within her. Might we be like Mary, our Mother and fellow pilgrim, welcoming God’s word into us, and journeying on the path towards life in Christ. So fellow pilgrims, pick up the Word of God and journey with it, knowing that God’s word, when spoken into your lives, will produce an abundance of crops.

Banner image: Vincent van Gogh, The Sower, 1888, Villa Flora museum, Winterthur, Switzerland.