Browsing Homilies

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 55:10-11 | Ps 65 | Rom 8:18-23 | Mt 13:1-23

Any farmer would tell us that one of the most challenging parts of their work is preparing the soil so that it can receive the seed. It requires intense labor to clear the land of any trees, shrubs, or weeds that might have taken root there. Sometimes the ground is full of rocks that must be dug up and moved. Often the ground soil is not deep enough to support the crops, so tons of soil need to be trucked in and spread over the area. Then, fertilizer must be applied to make sure there are enough nutrients in the soil to support the plants. Finally, the soil must be adequately irrigated. Only then is the soil ready to support the seeds that will be planted.

Healthy, nutrient rich soil is just as important to seed as water is for fish and fresh oxygen is for us. Without good soil, it would be a waste of time for the farmer to plant the seeds. And good soil doesn’t always happen naturally. It is often only the result of hard work.

In today’s gospel, the Parable of the Sower, Jesus compares God’s word to a seed. A seed is something small that contains within it, immense life-giving power. Just consider how an oak tree that can live for a hundred years comes from a tiny acorn. Just so, God’s word seems small but packs a mighty punch. Consider all the movements that have been inspired by the Bible like the non-violence movements of Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or the efforts to eradicate slavery by the abolitionists. All of them, and more, were inspired by the Bible. And they show us that when we welcome God’s word and act on it, it will transform us and bring countless blessings to the Church and society.

As dynamic as God’s word is, it needs fertile, nutrient rich soil if it is going to take root, grow, and nourish us. And the soil that Jesus’ words land on is our hearts. Just as a farmer puts a lot of work into preparing the soil to plant his crops, just so we need to put a lot of work into preparing our hearts to receive God’s word if it is going to have a transformative effect on us.

You and I cannot make seeds grow; that is God’s job. But we can attend to the conditions within which growth is most likely to occur. What have you seen? What “soil conditions” have most helped your faith to grow?

The reign of God is worth our best efforts. Yet throughout Christian history, because of this parable, “they’re not good soil” has excused ministry that has not produced fruit. To be fair, some soil is so acidic that nothing will grow. However, rather than point a finger at others’ unreceptivity, how can we ourselves become more proficient at preparing soil?

Lord, you give us rain from heaven to water the earth. Your showers keep the earth tender. You want your word to bear fruit and to achieve what you sent it for. We, in turn, want to serve you and your Word. Teach us what we need to know so that the words that we say will be living and effective. Holy Spirit, come to the aid of our weakness so that we all bear fruit—fruit that will last.


RSS Feed


Access all blogs

Subscribe to all of our blogs