Fr. Jim homily Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time July 12, 2020
Despite the obvious failures, the parable assures us God is at work- and if God is at work, there is Hope and in that Trust of Hope there is the illogical but certain bounty of a harvest beyond human expectation.
Upstate along the thruway, I often marveled at seeing trees growing out of the side of rock- wow! The power of the truth that Jesus’ word will not come back empty but shall do what pleases him, achieving the end for which he sent it … to accept the invitation of grace- the love relationship with God. And that relationship is intimately expressed in the sacraments, especially First Holy Communion, Confirmation.
Jesus’ parable is both an expression of his discouragement, as disciples are leaving him and to foster encouragement / hope … to cultivate the mystery of God within people’s hearts. So, I wonder if we should look at this parable from Jesus’ perspective; saying work with me people … all this effort for what, foot-path, thorns, rocks …..yet, Father the illogical truth of 100, 60, 30-fold return of a harvest from seed on good soil. The yield would have been beyond the wildest dreams of any farmer hearing this parable. At first glance, what looks like a disaster can, nevertheless, yield a surprise. It is obvious Jesus sees another factor at work in our lives. He addresses the crowds around him and us too, "Let everyone heed what he or she hears." It is as if he is saying, “Pay close attention, you may think you have evidence for your negative expectations, but look more closely at your lives and see a possibility for hope.” We can put our confidence in God, despite signs to the contrary.
Each soil has a lesson to teach and inspire …
Seeds- words spoken to us, from us: good, bad, indifferent, forgiving, condemning
Thorns- biting, hurtful, spiteful. We have all experienced the initial enthusiasm that quickly fades away, and I will use our young first communicant here tonight as an example. Today is exciting for you and your family as you receive the Lord for the very first time. You will probably enjoy a party later today or tomorrow, which will also be fun and exciting – but will we see you here next week, or the week after, or the week after that?
Rocks- lack of support, betrayals- we face a choice: the kingdom of God or of Man … how often do we choose the latter?
Birds- peer pressure / societal pressure, success valued/measured in academic/ athletic (aka scholarship material) standards only, amoral manipulative practices of big business used to gain promotions, euthanasia vs palliative care as most cost effective …- our moral compass, is it set by JOY (Jesus-Others-You) or MMI? (Me-Myself and I)
The Eucharist expresses Jesus’ anxiety before his death and communicates his acceptance of the Father’s mysterious plan for Him. All who share in the Eucharist confess that the rocks and thorns of Jesus’ cross, passion and death are transformed / will be transformed into the abundant harvest of the resurrection. Eucharist articulates a hope, grounded in God’s freedom to act in mystery, the tree growing from the side of a rock.