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Friday, 14 July 2023 20:06

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A - 2023

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13:1 – 23

Fr Elmer Ibarra 150 BestMy Dad used to eat papaya and one day he decided to throw the seeds onto our lot near our house. Then he was surprised when one day the seed that he had thrown grew and soon enough it was producing fruit and my mum had no need to buy papaya anymore. You can just imagine how fruitful that soil was.

The gospel for today is about what kind of soil we have when we receive the Word of God. Jesus explained this with some detail in a parable. And yet, his disciples didn’t seem to get it. And for most of us, we also have the same problem as the disciples and these things depend on how serious we are with the Word of God. We can only produce 30, 60 or 100-fold if we are open to receiving the Word of God and let the Word of God touch our lives and influence others.

Hand holding bible book up to the sunny sky. Religious belief, faith and worship concept. In the gospel, you can feel the frustration of the sower when the seed that he has sown is snatched, burned or choked. The seed that God has planted may be snatched by the evil one because we don’t pay attention when we receive the Word of God. The seed that God has planted may be burned because while we receive the Word of God in good faith and even with much enthusiasm, we hardly have enough foundation, and when problems arise or some crisis of faith comes to us, we don’t have the foundation to anchor us in these difficult times. The seed that God has planted may get choked for the simple reason that we live in a world of too much distraction and our attention is simply not focused on the Word of God, therefore the seed that has been planted is just taken over by worldly anxieties and the lure of riches. And yet the sower remained optimistic because he knew that somewhere his seed would produce 30, 60 or even a 100- fold. God as the sower never gives up on us. He continues to sow the seed in each one of us. Every time we wake up in the morning, God comes and sows the seed in each one of us, in the hope that the seed that he has planted in us will grow. And yet, God doesn’t seek to control what happens in each seed that he has planted.

So how can we become the rich soil that is able to produce 30, 60 or even 100- fold? First, we must develop a love for the Scriptures. My professor in the seminary asked us, what was the difference between a Catholic Bible and a Protestant Bible? One of my classmates answered, the Catholic Bible has 73 books while the Protestant Bible has only 66 books. My professor said, “That’s correct but that’s not the answer that I’m looking for.” I said, “The Catholic Bible has an ‘imprimatur’ and a ‘nihil obstat’ signatures from a bishop attesting that that version of the Bible is recognised by the Catholic Church, while the Protestant Bible doesn’t have those.” My professor said, “That’s correct but again that’s not the answer that I’m looking for.” We then said, we give up Father. What’s the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant Bible. He said, a Protestant Bible is relatively worn out because it is being used all the time. While a Catholic Bible still looks like new but it is full of dust because it is hardly used.

While God sows his Word on us constantly, it is only by knowing the Scriptures through our personal reading of the Word of God that we will be fruitful.

Second, we must realise that while going to Sunday Mass is important, it is not enough. We must be very wary of the seed that is planted on rocky ground. It got burned because it has no roots. While we do acknowledge the importance of going to Sunday Mass, we should realise that in order to have a good foundation for our faith, we must be able to live out the values that we learn whenever the Word of God is preached. It is not enough for us to hear the Word it is even more important if we are able to live by the Word of God if we are to expect to yield fruit.

Lastly, we must focus our lives on living the Word of God. We live in a world where there’s so much temptation and allurement that we tend to focus on something else instead on the Word of God. If we want to become fruitful, then we should only focus on the Word of God and not on worldly desires or riches. Otherwise, the seed will get choked.

We live in a world, where the Word of God is becoming of less importance and less relevant. However, if one could only take the time of knowing Scriptures, then we would realise its importance and relevance. The only thing that we would need is to live it out. Hopefully, the Gospel for today will give us that boost to make us realise that God never gives up in planting his seed and it is really up to us to make the soil in order that the this seed will grow.