Homily: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Sometimes, Jesus just got frustrated. Usually it was with his closest disciples when they either completely missed the point or acted like idiots. The Pharisees particularly got under his skin because of their obstinacy and hard-hearted attitudes. And sometimes, Jesus simply got frustrated with the world around him, and its inability to grasp his mission.
But when he got frustrated, as we learnt from today’s gospel, Jesus didn’t just give up and walk away; he didn’t get offended, or throw in the towel, or petulantly rile against his Father, a la Jonah. Instead, he told stories. As the people around him failed to ‘get it’, Jesus moved to a different way of communicating his message: he spoke to them in parables.
We get Jesus working out a bit of his frustrations in today’s well-known parable of the seed sower. We know that the seed sower is meant to be Jesus: he is the Word of God, sowing that word among God’s people. But note that the sower is not precise in where he sows his words. He is quite aware that what he is sowing isn’t necessarily going into the best soil. Some of his words get scattered on pathways, others among rocks; some seeds get mixed up in the weeds, and some fall into the good soil. The sower’s seeds need to be scattered everywhere, so that somewhere they will grow and flourish. Jesus has a message to share – he is the Word of God from whom come the words of life – and he cannot but get on with planting these seeds, no matter where they fall.
God’s words, those seeds that need planting, are destined to fall onto our lives. And aren’t we all a mixture of barren pathways, hard stones, strangling weeds and rich soil? When we are honest with ourselves, don’t we all have aspects of our lives that misunderstand the goodness of the good news, or go all weak-kneed at the first sign of challenge? Don’t we all get enticed by power, or overwhelmed by worldly worries? And don’t we all have a receptive heart for things that are good and true and beautiful? Aren’t we all those things? I certainly am.
But God perseveres; he continues to plant his seeds in all parts of our lives, trusting that some of those seeds will grow and flourish and produce abundant fruit. Our task is to see where the fruitfulness in happening in our lives, and to cultivate that bit of land – in trusting prayer and in right judgement and in good living. God is sowing his words into every place of our lives, so that we might have every chance it will find our patch of good soil.
Our hearts and our minds and our hands – what we decide, and think, and do – is where Jesus is planting the seeds of the Kingdom right now. How are we receiving this – or more accurately, where are we receiving it? What’s getting into the good soil, and what’s getting lost elsewhere? But we are also, by extension, sowers of God’s Word in our own way. The fruits produced in our lives contain the seeds we can plant in others. So, we are both soil and seed; both receiver and giver. We have been given the task to be seed planters of what has been fruitful in our own lives.
Jesus overcame his frustrations by opening up to us every possibility to experience his life in our lives. So, be fruit-producers of the seeds that Jesus is planting, and be seed-planters from the fruit of your own garden.
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli27 January 2021