• Rev. Lawrence E. Polansky

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

"A sower went out to sow ..."

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 17(16):15 — “As for me, in justice I shall behold Your face; I shall be filled with the vision of Your glory.”

First Reading: Is 55:10-11 — “The rain makes the earth fruitful.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14 — “The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.”

Second Reading: Rom 8:18-23 — “Creation awaits the revelation of the children of God.”

Alleluia: “Alleluia, alleluia. The seed is the Word of God, Christ is the sower; all who come to Him will have life forever. Alleluia, alleluia.”

Gospel: Mt 13:1-23 — “A sower went out to sow.”

Communion Antiphon: Ps 84(83):4-5 — “The sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for her young: by Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they who dwell in Your house, forever singing Your praise.”

Once a third grade teacher told her class, “Today we will be discovering where objects come from.” She then held up a piece of paper and asked, “Where does paper come from?” Immediately a girl answered, “Paper comes from fibers that are extracted from a tree and converted to pulp, which is then combined with water, flattened, dried, and cut into sheets.” “Very good!” said the teacher.

Next the teacher held up an eraser and asked, “Where does an eraser come from?” A young boy proudly said, “Erasers are made from either natural or synthetic rubber.” “Wonderful!” said the teacher.

Then the teacher held up an apple that a student had given her that day and asked, “Where does an apple come from?” All of the students yelled out in unison, “From the grocery store!”

No matter how many advances modern technology affords to farmers, they face the same challenges and obstacles experienced by their ancient counterparts, not the least of which is the weather, something no one can accurately predict or control.

In the First Reading, Isaiah compares the farmer’s efforts to yield a bountiful harvest with that of the preacher and prophet attempting to sow the seeds of faith in the hearts of believers. God promises rain to moisten the ground, making it fertile and fruitful. As He gives us bread to satisfy our physical hunger, we are also given the living Word ... the Word of God ... Sacred Scripture ... to answer our spiritual hungers.

Saint Paul described the process of cultivating growth in the faith to the groaning experienced by women in labor. We long to be set free from slavery to sin. In Christ, humanity has received salvation for the soul and the promise of the resurrection of the body. Paul, like the long-suffering farmer, willingly endured all kinds of suffering in order to plant the seeds of faith in the early Christian communities, giving them the promise of freedom and new life.

In His parables, Jesus often spoke in agricultural terms, making Himself easily understood, as most people in His time had to live off the land. Like the farmer’s seed, our faith must be nurtured and fed, protected and cared for.

And, just as the farmer separates the wheat from the chaff, and prunes his larger plants for a more bountiful harvest, we, too, must learn to separate the good from the bad in our own lives. We submit ourselves to the pruning, purging, and purifying of our sins and bad habits so that we also may experience the glory of God in this life and in the next.

The seeds of our faith must be so deeply rooted in Christ and His Church that nothing can cause them to waste or wither – not the temptation to do wrong, not wealth or power, not pride or prejudice ... not worldly anxiety such as the fear of COVID-19.

The farmer understands better than most that all things come from God, belong to Him, and should be used to give Him glory, honor, and praise. That is why the farmer always offered up the first fruits of the harvest as a sacrifice in thanks to God. When the Word takes root in our lives and our faith grows, we can offer ourselves back to the One who first gave all to us. We do so in acts of love for Him and for each other. Just as Christ did for us.

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