July 16th - Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time: Where is the Seed Being Thrown?
Today's Gospel reading contains the Parable of the Sower. I have a story I like to tell in my wedding homilies that perhaps you have heard. It's great for weddings, but it also really fits today's readings.
The story is the story of the fussy vegetarian. A young women was committed to being a vegetarian, but she was never satisfied with any of the fruit or vegetables she bought. For her, all melons were too ripe, or not ripe enough. In her eyes, she could never find tomatoes that weren't bruised. Heads of cauliflower and broccoli were too big or too little. She was never happy.
Then one day, driving down Tarpon Avenue, she drove past a new store with a long line of people waiting to get in. She looked, and the sign said, God's Fruit and Vegetable Stand. "Finally,” she said, "I can get some decent vegetables and fruit.” So she stood on line and waited. Hours went by before she walked into that door. She was enveloped in light, but she didn't see any apples or oranges or tomatoes or cabbage, or anything to buy. She walked to the light, and there was a counter there. And behind the counter, there stood God. She could tell it was God because of the light, and because he had an apron on with a big G on it. Anyway, she placed her order, "I would like some perfect broccoli, and some perfect carrots, some perfect tomatoes and a perfect melon. Also, if you have perfect Brussel sprouts, that would really be a miracle.”
"Sorry,” God said, "I only sell seeds here.”
Actually, God doesn't sell seeds, He gives seeds to us. The seeds are his Word in its many expressions. But we have to do something with this gift. It simply is not enough just to hear the Word of God. We have to let it grow within us to such and extent that we are covered in its foliage. It is simply not enough to go to Church. We have to be Church. It is not enough to read the Bible. We have to be People of the Word.
The Divine Sower is throwing seed. And not a few seeds. He is throwing out big huge handfuls. He is pouring out his Word upon us. We've got to do something more than just let the seed hit the ground. We've got to be good soil. We have to nourish the Word of God. We have to strengthen it. We have to let it take root and grow.
So we hear the words: Love one another. That's nice. And useless. Useless unless we are able to look at that person in our family whose life has become the bane of our existence and make up our minds that we are going to end the vicious cycle of sarcasm, of silence, of nastiness, and maybe even of hatred. Let the Word of God take root and grow. We need to pray for that father who avoids us, and look for ways that he might enjoy our presence. We need to pray for the mother who snaps at us, and find a way to ease her burdens and fears. It may be something as simple as making dinner. We need to pray for that child who is both hurting and hurtful. We have to refuse to let him or her destroy himself or destroy us. Instead, we rebuild him with encouragement; we rebuild her with re-enforcement. Give children the opportunity to succeed. And support whatever success they might have, even if, like you and I, that success is imperfect. It is not enough for the Word of God to be scattered into a home. It must take root. When it is nurtured by our prayers, and cared for with our charity, it will grow.
This is where St. Paul comes in. St. Paul says in the second reading, "I consider the sufferings of the present nothing compared to the glory to be revealed to us.” Maybe this appears to be one of those lost statements. Something that we shelve until a crisis hits us. Wrong. To be a Christian is to accept suffering and accept the challenge of the Cross. It is a challenge and it is suffering for us to swallow our pride and forget about what he or she said or did for the sake of making love real in our family. That's not easy. Our pride does not like stepping aside. But that is how the Word of God will take root and grow.
The Divine Sower throws his Word on us to look with love and compassion on all the people in the world. We live under the constant threat of terrorism. Yet, for us to worship the Word of God and allow it to grow, we cannot return hatred with hatred. Yes, we must be protected from radical Islam, but if we allow these people to reduce us to hatred, then we are trampling the seeds of God under our feet. Have any of us prayed for the terrorists, prayed that they see that their actions are only destroying themselves? Let's be honest. It is hard to pray for them. In fact, it is suffering; particularly if you know someone who has been killed or hurt by terrorists or who has been sent to fight radical Islam. But we have to pray for them. And that hurts. Still, the suffering of this present life are nothing compared to the Glory that is to be revealed to us.
The Divine Sower is throwing seeds. He is begging us to let his Word take root. But how can it take root if instead of soil it is thrown into a cesspool? How can His Word grow when it is thrown into a society that condones immorality, even supports immorality, in the name of freedom and political correctness? How can it grow when we willingly participate in the worst of our society? Pornography is destroying our society. Men are treating women like objects, not like people of love. Women are letting it happen, even joining in, in the name of liberation. How can the Word of God take root in a place where the soil has been replaced with sewage? The Word of God can't grow in a cesspool. But it takes courage and suffering to stand up against the immoral aspects of society.
"Lord come and heal the pains of our lives, of our world” we pray. And He gives us what we need. He gives us His Word. But the Word is a seed. What are we going to do with it?