Immaculate Conception and St. Dominic, Stone

 

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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

You are good, do your best, don’t worry what the world thinks, you are winning, be happy!

One of the effects of the problems and trials of life is that we become a little despondent. When our efforts are not appreciated or our good intentions are misunderstood. When we have someone’s best interests at heart and we are rejected. We do not do what we do for reward, but when our words fall on deaf ears we feel deflated and maybe wonder if we should let sleeping dogs lie. The disciples have seen the Lord’s miracles and teachings meet with a high proportion of negativity. In Nazareth and so many other places the peoples stopped their ears to Jesus. He was often ridiculed, ignored and misinterpreted. The disciples felt: ‘if this is how the Lord’s teaching is treated what chance do we stand when we give witness?’ So in reference to the Word of God, our Lord gives them the parable of the sower sowing his seed in a field bordered by a path, rocks and brambles.

We are first struck by the largesse of God. I don’t think much of His aim, do you? He throws the seed around and it lands all over the place! God is all about generosity and opportunity. He is not result orientated but forever forgiving and giving us yet another chance to get it right. God doesn’t look for the ideal heart, person or life. He throws His Word and blessings into the most unlikely lives, the hardest and most unresponsive hearts. Who knows? With God’s grace people can revisit what the Word contained and be more receptive to its life and message? Some people need time, a few more years in the university of life, to come to their senses. Remember St. Augustine, he thought at first he’d left it too late to come to faith. Some people have to see how pointless it is to put all your eggs in the basket of the world; to experience the inability of the material and secular to give meaning to life.

The seed on the path are people who don’t allow the Word to connect with their daily life. Nothing enters their comfort zone that will challenge them. Sadly, they are very vulnerable. The Word has not penetrated, found a root, it remains exposed and a mere veneer with no safe depth. The birds just swoop and the seed is gone. To their surprise, their faith has evaporated. They thought they were made of better stuff and then….

The seed on the rock are the: ‘We’re here but we won’t sign up for anything’, folk. They are present but their commitment is without mettle. There is a minimalism about their religion. When push comes to shove they may not be there for you.

The seed in thorns are people who are trying to keep too many conflicting plates in the air. They want what God offers but also the world, indeed, they want the best of both Heaven and Earth. Oil and water do not mix. Something has to give. But they will not tie themselves down to allow God alone to provide. They must have more of what the world says they must have and then they will be secure. Somehow they never have enough. They sit in the middle with their hands on both God and mammon. They would be appalled at the word/invitation of Jesus to the rich young man, to sell his goods and give the proceeds to the poor and then follow Him. But Christian faith is about choices, decisions and valuing what is seen as Treasure in Heaven.

The three types: path, rocks and thorns are all people who feel strong but are of great concern to us – they are not safe and they need our prayers and good example.

Then there are the fruitful folk. Those who provide the seed/Word with a fertile response. When the Word is proclaimed, it is made welcome, the challenge is accepted, the guidance approved, the necessary changes and conversion of heart are made. There is appreciation of God’s generosity and an immense sense of feeling blessed. What is an adequate response? Our Lord doesn’t press the issue of a big harvest. If we can’t manage a hundred, He’ll accept sixty, if you can’t manage that, He’ll accept thirty. It’s about willingness, cooperation, effort, goodwill, service and trust that count in God’ eyes.

We are reminded that all we need to do is to be an extension of the generous hand of God. Let us scatter His Word, our love and compassion to people in need with an indiscriminate approach. Just get the message and the concern out into the mix of folk and leave what happens next to God. Let us not focus on results just the dissemination of God’s love. We all know of cases of people who came late to faith or returned to practice their faith and have remained impressive and fully involved members of the parish family.

So, lift up your hearts! You are winning. There will be variable take up for all you do be it great or small. That is inevitable. It’s all the same to God Who is in charge, Just do your best. We all get the same reward. Also, a bit of good news. I managed to see my brother Joe on Thursday. He has come through again, thanks to your prayers. He really lifted my heart.

God bless you and all you loved ones,

Fr. Gerard X

 

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