Below is my homily from this morning's Mass for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, July 12, 2020.
You can find the readings on which it is based HERE
I hope you find it helpful in your own circumstances.
Comments, observations and perspective on my homily or on today's readings are very invited and welcome! See the "Comment Box" below the homily.
Peace be with you all!!!
In today's Gospel we have the parable of a “sower” sowing seed, an essential, critical act within the agricultural cycle of planting and harvesting.
But here in the parable the sower sows the seed it is all over the place.
On the path.
On the rocks among the shallow dirt.
In the thorns, or weeds in some translations.
In addition to the “good soil”.
The sower just seems to be throwing the seed everywhere.
In the parable the Word is obviously the proclamation of the Kingdom offered to all the world by Christ and later his disciples.
The parable offers metaphors for different types of people, that in one way or another are not capable of really receiving this word
Those who lack understanding
...approach it superficially
...are distracted by anxieties and preoccupations.
These all inhibit the word taking root, yielding the transformation and change within us, and in the world we encounter
...change rooted in us growing into the image of Christ and offering the same self-sacrificing love that he offered.
This parable offers a moment to reflect on some additional things that can get in the way.
Consider the path some of the seed falls on.
The surface of the path is hard packed and impenetrable.
The seed can't take root. It has no chance.
What makes the path hard?
Well it's hard because that's where everyone walks, where everyone goes.
It's the route most taken.
It's the accepted common wisdom of the crowd or the mob.
It's where everybody goes along to get along.
It's a place where the fulfillment of strong human desires for belonging, acceptance, applause, and adulation are dangled in front of us like carrots
...and it’s a place that scripture tells us is, very often, the wrong one.
In Scripture the mob or the crowd most often leans hard away from God, away from the truth, away from love.
It’s not the route taken by the Prophets like Isaiah, or John the Baptist, Jesus himself, Peter or Paul or so many other of our ancestors in the faith.
And then there’s the rocky ground with little soil.
The word penetrates below the surface a bit, but not much.
The thin soil doesn’t allow for deep roots that would sustain growth and life.
This is emblematic of the shallow and superficial faith when one approaches the faith primarily as a social thing, or a club of some kind
....where religion becomes more about belonging than being,
...being a member of the tribe or the club
...more about maintaining the comfort zones than the personal transformation the Christian faith actually calls us to.
These days this type of faith just doesn’t really endure.
Its lack of endurance is part of the reason why our own Church’s numbers are down so much over the years.
Finally, seeds that fall among the thorns or weeds can’t grow and thrive, as these crowd out roots and suck away needed nutrients.
For us these weeds are various distractions that pull us away from God and encourage self-preoccupation and reinforce it.
Our possessions, our sense pleasures, our prestige and position in life, our perceived or desired power over things.
All things that play to our egos, give us the illusion of self-sufficiency and power
...that tell us not so subtly we really don’t need God anyway
...accept as in so far as God serves me in these worldly purposes.
Here religion is a kind of self-improvement, self-empowerment, or self enrichment scheme.
The problem with this is that in its many self- preoccupations it isn’t really Christian
...because Christianity is essentially “other-focused” not “self-focused”
...the path to salvation being the love of others, God and neighbor, even at some cost to ourselves.
So how can we be “good soil where our faith can find roots and grow?
Well maybe “the path”, the “rocky soil” and “the weeds” can help us.
Maybe we need to be wary and skeptical of the path of the “the crowd” that “everyone” seems to be taking...and ask first what Christ might be calling us to.
Maybe we need to see our faith as matters of “believing” and “living” as the Lord calls us...rather than just “belonging”.
Maybe we need to be less focused on ourselves and our needs and more on others and theirs...even at some cost to ourselves.
Maybe these all can help the word of the kingdom to take root in us
...and maybe we can be counted among that “good earth” that yielded 30, 60 or a 100-fold.