Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Fr. Adam Royal
July 12, 2020 – 8:30 AM
“To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.” This is a harsh saying from the Lord Jesus. Whoever hears and receives the Word of God will be given even more riches. Whoever refuses it will lose even what he has. Nonetheless it is true, when rightly understood. Sometimes this statement is heard as a type of judgement. God decides who is and is not worthy to hear the mysteries of the Kingdom. But that cannot be what Jesus is saying. After all, he speaks the parables out loud. There are no secret teachings in Christianity. Jesus’ preaching was always public, and soon after his Ascension his words were written down and spread throughout the world to both the worthy and unworthy. So Jesus’ statement is not about God’s exclusion of people from the Kingdom, it is about our response. That is, I think to understand his words we must look to the parable.
Notice how it begins. A sower goes out to sow. He throws the seed absolutely everywhere. There is no discrimination, no judgement on the part of the sower. This is the love of God. A love which sees no person as unworthy of love and care. No matter what we have done, no matter if we hate God himself with every fiber of our being, he still loves us. He still offers us his love, and he is always ready to accept us and forgive us and give us an eternal home.
The response he receives to his offer of love is decided by us, because we are free. We are free to accept him or reject him. And what we choose is decided solely by ourselves. It is not society, or culture, or family. We alone choose what type of soil we will be and how we will prepare ourselves to receive his love.
We can choose the path of no preparation. We can be the barren and rocky soil not fit for growth. We can make our hearts as hard and impassible as stone. But then the love of God, his word, finds no place to take root. God does not force himself upon us. He will not break up the stones within our hearts without our consent. And neither will we know his love, his peace, without making room for him and preparing to receive it.
We can also begin preparing for him. Asking that his word take root within us. When it does we will experience the first hint, the slightest taste of the infinite happiness which belongs to God alone. But our work is not done. Just as in the garden of the parable, so also in the garden of our hearts, we must be constantly at work. We must protect and defend what God has given us, daily returning to his word and his love, allowing it to grow and bear fruit. Which is to say, we must pray daily. Otherwise weeds and thorns will begin to invade. The weeds and thorns of fear, worry, greed, self love, and every other sin. They will steal all of our time and eventually all the room in our heart, unless we turn to God and ask for help. For then his love will drive out all of our sins and worries. Then with his grace we will become fertile ground for the word of God and will bear fruit. Fruits of love which are nourishment for us and for the world.
And this returns us to our original question. Why does Christ speak in parables? So that we can be free. Rather than forcefully insert his message within us against our wills, he calls us to actively participate in his love. He offers us seeds, which we nurture and contemplate and allow them to grow within us, to allow the infinite mystery of God to fill our soul.