Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Fr. Peter Iorio
July 11, 2020 – 5:00 PM
Four brothers left home for college and became successful doctors and lawyers. Some years later, they had a reunion. They chatted after having dinner together. They discussed the gifts they had been able to give their elderly mother who lived in a faraway city and decided to open their mother’s thank you letter to each. The first said, “I had a big house built for Mama.” The second said, “I had a hundred-thousand-dollar theater built in the house.” The third said, “I had a Mercedes dealer deliver an EQC to her.” The fourth said, “You know how Mama loved reading the Bible, and you know she can’t read anymore because she can’t see very well? Well I met a preacher who told me about a parrot that can recite the entire Bible. It took twenty preachers 12 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $100,000 to the church, but it was worth it. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it.” The other brothers were impressed. Then they solemnly opened the thank-you letters sent to them by their mom. Mama wrote: “Milton, the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway.” “Michael, you gave me an expensive theater with Dolby sound, it could hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead, I’ve lost my hearing and I’m nearly blind. I’ll never use it. Thank you for the gesture just the same.” “Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay at home and I have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes. The thought was good. Thanks.” “Dearest Gerald”, she wrote to her fourth son. “You have the good sense to know what your mother likes. I cooked the chicken you sent. It was absolutely delicious!”
I am sorry, but I could not resist sharing a little humor in the midst of a long hot challenging summer.
Today’s readings are all about the power of the Word of God. The first reading from the prophet Isaiah is beautiful poetic imagery about how God’s word works like the process of bringing forth life on the earth. So God’s word goes forth and produces the good effects that God intends. I believe it is worth telling you that this message from the prophet is to the people of Israel who are in captivity. They long to return to their homeland. The very next line promises them that (verse 12) “Yes, in joy you shall go forth, in peace you shall be brought home.”
What a wonderful invitation for us to seek out words of hope and consolation and inspiration in times of difficulty like we are experiencing now in our world. God never abandons us and in fact, if we step back from the small details of today, we can trust that we are living in the process of God’s plan, whatever and however, that Plan comes about.
Paul, in the second reading in his letter to the Romans, admits that the process is painful… all creation is groaning in labor pains… and we also groan within ourselves as we wait for redemption.
The main point I make about the Gospel parable is not to make judgments or comparisons about which soil you are. The main point is about God. According to the traditional Palestinian farming practices, sowing often precedes plowing. We can assume that the sower intended to come back and plow the seeds into the soil. This parable is a story of God’s abundant wastefulness. Remember the prodigal son who wasted all his inheritance. God is prodigal in this parable, sowing seeds right and left, in abundant measure, so that we constantly receive the word in our hearts from a merciful and generous sower. God is always scattering the seeds of His kingdom around us whether we deserve them or not, so that when the soil of our hearts is ready for the seed to germinate, the seed is already there. Even the tiniest seed of God’s love can produce in us a harvest beyond our imagining.
Today’s Gospel assures us that God is in charge, and He will bring about the harvest, and it will be abundant. We need not despair if that harvest is not immediately visible. The Church in every century has seen people reject Christ, as illustrated in the parable of the sower. The parable tells us who are here today and listening to God’s word to do our part by preparing fertile soil in our hearts for the word of God to yield 30-, 60- or 100-fold. We are also to imitate the farmer who loses no sleep over a few seeds eaten by birds or a few suffocated seedlings. He knows well that the harvest will depend on the quality of the soil and the care and attention the seed receive. Be prodigal with the love that you have received from God. Keep doing good and casting out seeds of God’s love. You never know how just what a little act of love can grow into.