Items filtered by date: Friday, 14 July 2017
Friday, 14 July 2017 21:54

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A)

Mass Readings
Reading 1 — Isaiah 55:10-11
Psalm — Psalm 65:10-15
Reading 2 — Romans 8:-18-23
Gospel — Matthew 13:1-23

Today's scripture readings can give us a real sense of hope, because in a very powerful way, they proclaim that the power of the word of God will be fulfilled.

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah speaks about the power of God's word when everything seemed hopeless. He proclaimed those words to a nation that had been destroyed. Everything was demolished. Speaking in God's name about the word of God, he said: "It will not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish my will, the purpose for which it has been sent." Isaiah has this strong hope and confidence because God has spoken. Isaiah is telling us, reminding us, that God has spoken his word and it will happen. There is no doubt about that--the word of God will be accomplished. God's words will not return void or empty.

In the second reading, St. Paul says to a certain degree the same thing when he spoke about how the spirit is present in the world. Just as Paul spoke about the suffering of the present life, he insisted there is still hope. He went on to say about how the spirit is throughout all of creation, all of creation is groaning until it comes to that new birth, a fullness of life. St. Paul is confident that God's spirit is present and is changing, transforming our world into the reign of God.

In the Gospel, Jesus too, using a parable, was preaching about the word of God. He talked about how the farmer, the sower, goes out to sow the seed and throws it everywhere—some landed on the wayside and birds ate it; others fell on rocky ground; some fell on thin soil. So it sprouted but then there were no roots and so it was burned by the sun and died. Other seeds fell among the weeds and the thistles choked it as it grew up. But some fell on good ground. Jesus said that the seed that fell on good ground would produce 100, 60 or 30 fold. Jesus is here speaking about that same power of God's word that Isaiah was thinking about and Paul was speaking about. That must have surprised his listeners, because normally they would have expected seed to yield at the most seven fold. But Jesus said the word of God would produce fruit that is beyond our imagination.

The parable makes all of us ask where we are: Are we the seed that fell along the path? The seed that fell on the rocky ground? The seed that got choked by the thistles, the weeds? Or are we the seed that fell on the good ground where it can take root, grow, change us and then enable us to help change this world? If evil seems to have the upper hand in our world, it is because we have not been listening to God's word and putting it into practice.

Published in Homilies
Friday, 14 July 2017 08:34

“Whoever has ears ought to hear”

Mass Readings
Reading 1 — Isaiah 55:10-11
Psalm — Psalm 65:10-15
Reading 2 — Romans 8:-18-23
Gospel — Matthew 13:1-23

“Whoever has ears ought to hear,“ says our Lord to the crowd. And today, we listen to Him telling us the same. For Jesus, to listen is not just any activity but an important means to be constantly united with the Father. To listen means to be united. Within this ambit, we reflect on our readings today.

To Listen is to be Nourished

In our first reading today, God through Isaiah likens His word to rain and snow falling from heaven, making earth fertile and fruitful. And Jesus in our gospel speaks of the sower, the seed and the soil, a familiar scene to many. The word of God is Jesus and he has accomplished all that the Father wishes Him to do. He saved us and is continuously saving us. But the salvation we received needs our participation; God needs our response. And to listen to the Word is the first stage of our response. Only in listening that we get to see who we are and the kind of response we ought to make. When we listen to the Word of God, we do not just passively listen. To listen is to participate in the life of God, and being with God means being constantly nourished. Thus, we find ourselves fertile and fruitful in faith, virtue and charity.

To Listen is to be Healed

In our second reading, St. Paul gives us a stark picture of our current situation: we are in pain; we are struggling. This poses a great challenge to listening. It is easy to listen when we are not troubled by anything. And nobody is not troubled, even the minutest of all things is bothered in any way. Facing the truth of our current situation, St. Paul urges us to look at it with a positive heart. Yes, we are suffering but it is not all there is. Our suffering here and now is a test to strengthen us—not to break us—so that like a victorious athlete, we would be “set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.” St. Paul redirects the ears of our faith to the promise of redemption, a promise that is true, sure and eternal. All we need to do is to listen to the Word of God like true disciples. And like the soil that needs to be tilled and cultivated, we allow suffering to cultivate us as seedbeds of faith. In this way, we allow ourselves to be healed by God and nourish us like watered garden—fertile and fruitful.

To Listen is to be Challenged

Our Responsorial Psalm today speaks of God visiting His people and nourishing them. Here lies another challenge: to be visited is to be stirred. Our usual monotony is shaken and the status quo is challenged. Remember how God challenged our ancestors (Abraham, Moses and Elijah etc). By challenging them, God made them fruitful. Today, Jesus challenges us to be fruitful even in the midst of suffering. He himself is our example. In a society where morals and values once believed and understood as society’s building block are questioned—facing the danger of being obsolete. Jesus’s words redirect our mind and heart by challenging all these false values. He wants us to go forward bringing with us the unchangeable, unalienable and irreplaceable values. Values that have built and will continue to build our identity and uniting our society eternally to the Father.

However, no matter how lofty the message is if men close their ears to what is true, eternal and divine, we will never be nourished and our journey will lead us nowhere but to our own demise.

So we ask God for the grace to open our hearts that we may listen to Him and be nourished by His words. We also ask for the intercession of our mother, Our Lady of Consolation. Like her, may we listen to the Word of God and ponder Him in our hearts.

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Published in Homilies

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