15th Sunday Ordinary Time
Isaiah 55:10-11 Psalm 65: 10, 11, 12-13, 14 (Luke 8:8) Romans 8:18-23 Matthew 13:1-23
A few months ago I attended an early spring flower show at a local farmer’s market. The exhibit room was crowded with people, who probably like myself, saw the bright array of flowers as a hopeful sign that the long enduring winter would soon come to an end. As I strolled through the various areas of the room, I was in awe of the many different blooms and shrubs that lined both sides of the walking paths.
These were not random plantings. Springing forth from the rich dark soil, carefully designed gardens boldly proclaimed a creativity and commitment to nurturing the beauty of God’s creation in a very intentional way. Behind the scenes of these displays had to be planners who tossed many ideas around before the final vision took root. Behind the scenes had to be receptive landscapers who understood this vision, providing the right elements, skill and energy to bring it life.
Such is the case in today’s gospel reading. The disciples have been “understudies” of Jesus for quite some time. Jesus has been carefully tending them to become skilled “hearers” and “doers” of God’s “vision”, the word of God. The parable tells us that the sower has taken good seed and scattered it around in way that allowed it to settle in a variety of places. But the good seed itself was not enough. The seed could only thrive commensurate with particular conditions. The more right the conditions, the more hope the seed would be successful in bringing forth a rich bounty.
What are the right conditions for bringing forth such a rich bounty as described in today’s gospel? The blueprint design can be found in Jesus’ words, teachings and struggles. But the blueprint alone is not enough—we the landscapers hold the key to how bountiful the word will blossom forth from us.
The landscapers of the farm market displays followed through with an intentional design. But in order to maintain the design, careful cultivation is needed. In today’s gospel, Jesus challenges us to look at the practices we use to cultivate the word of God in our lives. Jesus’ work was framed by his relationship with God the Father. Jesus rooted his life in prayer, his commitment to community, his ability to look critically at the happenings in the world around him. In addition, his acceptance of others allowed him to lead them into transformation. Perhaps we can ask ourselves how well do these practices resonate with the working reality of our lives.
Jesus challenges us to own our blindness and our deafness— the apathy, sinfulness, weaknesses, fears that prevent us from fully accepting responsibility of living out our baptismal calls. How we encourage hope in the midst of “enduring winters of suffering and sadness” is commensurate with our willingness to do the work of growing God in our lives.
Sister Barbara Ann Sgro, OP