Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 13, 2008; Year: A
Is. 55:10-1; Rom. 8:18-23; Mt. 13:1-23
The Fruitful Word of God

First Reading...
"Thus says the Lord: 'As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall the word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.'" [Is. 55:10-1]

Second Reading...
"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies." [Rom. 8:18-23]

Gospel Reading...
"Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables.

'Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!'

Then the disciples came and asked Jesus, 'Why do you speak to them in parables?' He answered, 'To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.

'The reason I speak to them in parables is that 'seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.' With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: 'You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn - and I would heal them.'

'But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

'Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.

'But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.'" [Mt. 13:1-23]

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW
There is a Chinese saying which carries the meaning that "A speech will either prosper or ruin a nation." Many relationships break off because of wrong speech. When a couple is too close with each other, we always forget mutual respect and courtesy. We may say anything without considering if it would hurt the other party.

A friend and her millionaire husband visited their construction site. A worker who wore a helmet saw her and shouted, "Hi, Emily! Remember me? We used to date in the secondary school." On the way home, her millionaire husband teased her, "Luckily you married me. Otherwise you will be the wife of a construction worker." She answered ,"You should appreciate that you married me. Otherwise, he will be the millionaire and not you."

Frequently exchanging these remarks plants the seed for a bad relationship. It's like a broken egg - cannot be reversed.

Jesus came out of a house along the Sea of Galilee. There was such large crowd that gathered to listen to Jesus that he is preaching from a boat to the people on the shore. The large crowd was there listening. But what kind of hearers were there? What kind of hearers are there today?

Jesus tells us about four ways people respond to the gospel. This is one of the parables that Jesus himself interprets. It tells how truth enters or fails to enter the hearts of men.

Jesus uses an every day truth of farmer sowing seed. As Jesus spoke this he may have seen a farmer off in the distance scattering seed.

Here is what we find out about what Jesus really means when he tells:

The story of the farmer sowing seed:

The Sower is the one who preaches the gospel.

The Seed is the Gospel.

The Soils are the conditions of the hearts of men.

The main point of the parable is the effect of the Gospel is determined by the heart of the hearer. Because this is the main point some people like to call this the parable of the soils. But Jesus called this the parable of the sower in verse 18 when he says, listen then to what the parable of the sower means.

Why do preachers of the gospel get discouraged? It is because they have the most important message of all and yet so many people have little regard for it. If you had the cure to cancer, you would tell it to all. But it would be discouraging if no one acted on your message.

But there is encouragement to all who share the gospel from the parable of the sower. Not everyone will respond to your message, but some will. That is something to be encouraged about. You can expect people to respond in various ways.

THE HARD HEARTED HEARER MATTHEW 13:4

As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Matthew 13:19

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

We sometimes speak of someone as hard-hearted. You just can’t get a message into their hearts. This kind of person is represented by a trodden path. This is the person who is closed to the gospel. They may have a million different reasons but the bottom line is that this is a person that is not interested to receive the gospel.

We find in Vs 4 that some of the seed fell along the path. The path is hard and not easily penetrated so the birds came and ate the seeds sown along the path. Paths along the field become trampled by foot. Soon these paths become as hard as pavement. What if you planted a corn field in a paved parking lot?

You would not get any crops. It is not the kind of soil that will support the seed to grow into a mature plant. The path is the hard heart of men. The bird is the devil that snatches away the Gospel.

The heart often becomes hard over the years. After rejecting the gospel so many times they become hardened. I talked to a man saved at age of forty years. He said the odds of his being saved were one in three thousand.

There are so many people who have hardened their heart to the gospel. They have become too hard hearted to respond to Jesus message. They are the ones that make evangelization unpleasant.

It is dangerous when the young person thinks; I am young so I will live my life according to the world’s ways and then in my later life receive Christ. They may come to find out the moment of opportunity is past for them and they have become hard hearted. Satan can snatch the gospel from them, as easy as a bird eats the seed that falls on the hard path.

SHALLOW HEARERS Matthew 13:5-6
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

Matthew 13: 20-21
The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

Some seeds will fall on rocky soil where the earth covers the rock. The seeds can’t go deep. These seeds germinate quickly and spring up very fast. But when the sun comes out there is no substance. The plant withers and dies. The roots never really penetrated the soil.

Do you know the impulsive person? First they take up jogging and buy jogging shoes, sweats, headband and a sports watch. They get up one morning drink a raw egg and jog five miles. Afterwards they get sore and tired and quit. Before you know it they have moved on to the next activity. They are enticed into something else.

Jesus spoke of the spiritually impulsive person. Think of the crowds that were willing to follow Jesus until things got tough. Even he is talking about the shallow hearers to a massive crowd that gathered there at the Sea of Galilee. Many of them would prove to be shallow hearers.

Here is the one who hears the gospel and responds openly and emotionally. Troubles and trials come and that’s it for them. There are gone. Many people make spur of the moment decisions and they are gone. Others go from one great meeting to another with no real commitment. They are Spiritual gypsies. They are shallow hearers.

The crowds are ready to gather and hear whoever is popular. But Jesus path led him to the cross. He calls us to take up our own cross and follow him. There are many superficial believers who will just wilt away when the trials and tribulations come. These trials work perseverance in true Christians.

The shallow hearers may be attracted to the blessings, abundant life and heaven. But they don’t count the cost of discipleship. Following Jesus is a call for obedience.

After we have a negative experience with the hard hearted we get excited when someone shows a quick response to the gospel. But without really becoming rooted in Christ they wilt away.

COMPROMISING HEARER Matthew 13:7
Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.

We have the luxury in this parable of having the explanation of the meaning that Jesus gave in private to his disciples. He gives us this explanation in verse 22.

Matthew 13:22
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

For some who receive the gospel their spiritual life is choked out by the worries of life. We have three enemies to our spiritual life; the world, the flesh and the devil. The devil worked on the hard heated and snatched away the seed. The flesh got the best of the shallow hearer.

This time it is the cares of the world that choke out the sprouts soon after the seed has been sown and the shoots start to sprout. The deceitfulness of wealth is what ends the spiritual life of the seed that falls among the thorns, the compromising hearer.

The deceitfulness of wealth is not limited just to the rich. The poor who are working hard to get ahead can be snatched away spiritually by wealth too. For the rich the trap of pursuing luxuries and pleasures can choke out their spiritual life.

They may profess to follow Christ at one time. But now there is no evidence of spiritual fruit. They have no spiritual power. Their lives do not reflect the godliness of Jesus Christ. It is ironic what some call the “good things in life” may actually be the briers and thistles that choke out the gospel

REPRODUCING CHRISTIAN Matthew 13:8
Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

Matthew 13:23

But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Don’t be discouraged because some people you work with are not continuing on in their walk with Christ. Some will produce spiritual fruit yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. We have a name for these kinds of people. We call them the super spreaders. When researchers track down the infectors of certain viruses they can sometimes point to a few who affected the masses.

You sow the gospel in the heart of one super spreader and they have started a spiritual movement. The few that do! It is exciting when someone responds and serves Jesus and reproduces.

Not everyone you share the gospel with will have hardened hearts. You should have hope. There are those who will receive the gospel for what it is, the words of eternal life. You don’t always know when seed has fallen on good soil.

We sow in hope. We are anticipating the gospel seed to fall on good soil in a receptive heart. When it does we reap one hundred fold.

We will have joy when we share the gospel. It is never easy to go out and share Christ with others but there is a joy in it. Psalm 126:6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

There is a principle that when you sow abundantly you reap abundantly. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says; remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

This passage may be talking about your financial giving, but the laws of sowing and reaping apply to sharing the gospel. The more you share Jesus Christ, the more seed that will fall on good soil.

'As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall the word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.'" [Is. 55:10-1]

   Click here for other Sunday Homilies 

A New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a serious exegetical study on the important words and texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East, Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can be ordered through email: rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

The cost of the book is Rs. 125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza, OCD, MA. PhD.

Dear friend, my homilies will be posted on Thursdays and you can benefit them and if you need more resources, you could contact me on rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

Let us make this ministry fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of joy for me and for you and help people become more aware of its riches. You are also welcome to share your feedback with me. Thanks and God bless. 

 

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