FIFTEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
MATTHEW 13: 1 – 23
Praise the Lord, to whom our praise is due;
Praise be the Lord, to whom our praise is due, now and forever.
Blessed is the Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has chosen us from all the peoples by giving us his Torah.
Blessed is the Lord, giver of the Torah.
This is a long Gospel. Read it right through so that you get the feel for the story.
Now that you have got the picture I am sure you will understand why we will concentrate on only the parable of the Sower. We will be trying to discover the message that Jesus’ audience went home with. Remember that Jesus was a great teacher, so we can be sure that most understood exactly what he was teaching. He must have been good to keep on drawing “such large crowds.”
Do not think that everything went well with Jesus mission. In 11: 20 – 24 we learn that the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum had not changed their ways. Chapter twelve could easily be called, “War is declared against Jesus.” Conflict over Sabbath observance between Jesus and the Pharisees culminates in, “The Pharisees went out and took counsel against him to put him to death.”
As he spoke that day, from the boat on the Sea of Galilee, he must have been well aware of his recent failures and that some of this crowd would accept his message and others would not.
In the Parable of the Sower Jesus teaches us the in spite of all contradictions and obstacles, his word will yield abundant fruit because it holds in itself the irresistible force of life.
Jesus told his audience and he continues to remind us that His Word will transform the world. We must not be discouraged by what looks like failure. Good, Godness, will triumph. The Word of God will bear fruit beyond our wildest dreams, right now.
In His teaching, Jesus used everyday scenes familiar to his audience. We need to understand and imagine what Jesus was referring to, eg, a farmer planting seed. The more we learn about the background to life in Jesus time the better we will be able to apply his teaching to our present situation.
Now we will read to parable once more. Concentrate on the sower.
A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, 6and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. 7Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. 8But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
The method for planting was to scatter the seed first and then to plough the field covering the seed with soil. This farmer plants with enthusiasm, seed flies in all directions. There is even enough to feed the birds. Then as he ploughs breaking up the hard ground of the paths and shifting the rocks that get in his way. Time passes but nothing seems to happen. Then the rains come. Little by little the tiny plants appear. “It’s a miracle,” we are inclined to shout. No, this is the Word of God at work in us and our society. Slowly the plants grow to maturity and soon the crop is ready to be harvested. And what a crop it will be. Whoever heard of a farmer reaping one hundred times, sixty times or thirty times, what he sowed. Surely Jesus must have surprised himself as he told this parable. Think of all those times that he felt he was wasting his time and not getting through to the people and now today this large crowd accepts all he has to say. There is no mention of even the Pharisees walking off in disgust.
What extraordinary encouragement for all, called to bring the Word of God to others; parents teachers, indeed, all of us.
Just in case we doubt that this could be true Matthew assures us that we have heard correctly; “Whoever has ears ought to hear,” sow the Good News of the Word of God abundantly.