July 12, 2020 — Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
IS 55:10-11; PS 65:10-14; ROM 8:18-23; MT 13:1-23 OR 13:1-9
Today’s readings are filled with analogies for the stewardship way of life, demonstrating the slow and steady, yet powerful effect this lifestyle will have on those who fully embrace it.
In our first reading, from Isaiah, the Father speaks to us of the gentle but unstoppable power of His Word, using the analogy of the Word as “rain and snow” that water the earth, “making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats.” He tells us that His Word to us always serves a purpose, always. It gives us life, sustains our very being. Christian stewards must fill themselves with this nourishment every day. When we commit to regular prayer time with God’s Word, we can absolutely count on it to take root in us and transform our lives.
The analogy of the fertile and fruitful growth foreshadows a well-known parable our Lord offers in today’s Gospel passage from Matthew, the Parable of the Sower. Here, Jesus tells the story of a sower who scatters seed on many different kinds of land.
Some of the seeds land on a path where birds carry them off before they even have a chance to take root. Other seeds land on rocky ground with little soil. Those seeds begin to grow but are fragile, having weak roots of little depth. As soon as things begin to heat up, they get scorched and die. Then there are the seeds that land on what would have been fine soil but for the fact that the soil also contains thorns. Those seeds have a fighting chance to put down solid roots, but the thorns choke them just as they are beginning to grow strong.
Finally, there are the seeds that land on deep and healthy soil. These seeds produce abundant fruit.
Jesus explains that the “seeds” are all those “who [hear] the word of the kingdom.” Clearly, this Word is meant for everyone, as the sower scatters it far and wide. Yet, few of the seeds land on soil where they can take root and finally flourish.
This is where the stewardship way of life comes in. When we give the best of our time, talent and treasure to serve God and others, we create lives filled with that rare “good soil” needed for the Kingdom of God to thrive.
How does this happen? Stewardship living removes the “rocks” of mistrust from our lives as we develop an unshakable faith that God will always provide for our needs. It clears away the “thorns” of worldly ambition that make us self-centered, fill us with needless anxiety and stifle our focus on God. Stewardship living requires a deep reliance on the Word of God and the sacraments which in turn nourish and fertilize the soil of our lives, making us receptive to God’s plans for us and ultimately producing abundant fruit through the way we live each day.
Let us deepen our commitment to this way of life, allowing the Sower to do His work in our lives. The Master Gardner will surely produce miraculous fruits through us.