15th Sunday of the Year
A Reflection on Mt. 13:1-23
By Fr. Ron
Today’s Gospel marks the beginning of the third long discourse given by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Over the next few weeks, the Gospel readings will take us through the entire 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, a lengthy teaching discourse.
Throughout this discourse, Jesus will offer several parables to illustrate for his listeners what he means by the kingdom of heaven. He begins with the parable of the sower, which appears rather straightforward—of course, seeds grow best in good soil. Seeds that miss the soil, are sown on rocky ground, or are sown among other plants will not grow. The surprise in the parable is the enormous yield of the seed that is sown on good soil.
One way of interpreting this parable is to see our hearts and minds as the field in which the seed is sown. The seed is the Word of God. Do our hearts and minds provide a fertile ground in which God’s word can take root and produce fruit? Have we encountered Christ in the written and proclaimed word of God in the Bible? Are we open to the way God’s word may challenge us as well as the way it may encourage or comfort us?
Yet, all of this presumes we have taken the time to hear God’s Word. The first step is to read God’s word, to hear God’s word, to listen to God’s word, to heed God’s word, and then to live God’s word. But it all begins with welcoming that seed into our hearts and minds.
Certainly, that includes listening attentively to our Scripture readings proclaimed at Mass. Since it is God speaking to us, we need to be alert and attentive. Imagine if Jesus walked into our church today and started to speak. Would we listen to every word? Hang on every word? Of course, we would.
Well, Jesus speaks to us every Sunday (in fact, every day) through his word that is proclaimed. How attentive are we?
But the Bible is not a word reserved for Sunday (or even just for Mass). We all have Bibles. It has been said that the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1450 was the most significant factor in the evangelization of the world since St. Paul. Do you know that the Bible was the first book printed by Gutenberg on his printing press? And now the Word of God is also available to us on the internet. We can carry it on our cell phones.
My point is that the Word of God is readily available to us. We all have Bibles. The question is: do we read them? If not, we need to dust them off and include them in our daily prayer and reflection.
St. John Eudes recommended that all Christian read the New Testament for a half hour each day. He made this recommendation to all people (to all the baptized), not just priests and religious. He also points out that God speaks to us in the Bible. He encourages us to open our hearts and minds to what God has to say to us. He suggests that we begin with the New Testament.
He has another suggestion to bring the seed of God’s word into our lives. He recommends that we choose a verse from the Bible each morning, memorize it and carry it with us throughout the day. For example, I might choose the opening sentence of today’s second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”
Reflect on its meaning at the beginning of the day. Recall it at various times throughout the day. Perhaps some experiences during the day will remind me of it. At the close of the day, I think back over what thoughts or experiences came to me throughout the day.
This kind of meditation is a kind of ruminating. Do you know what that word means? Ruminating animals are those who chew all day long. This includes various types of cattle. Ruminating on God’s word can help us digest it better. Or to use the metaphor of Jesus in today’s parable, it will take root in our hearts and produce abundant fruit
In order for God’s word to take root in our lives, it first must be planted. Consider making a resolution right now to include reading, reflecting and praying with the Bible a part of your daily routine. Then allow this word to produce abundant fruit in your service to God and neighbor.