XV SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
isaiah 55:10-11; romans 8:18-23; matthew 13:1-23 or 13:1-9
«i’m quitting!» said a priest companion as he and i were vesting for the eucharist. before a stunned me could respond, he said his province was quitting a missionary region because even after thirty plus years of ministry, they were not seeing the fruit of their labour. they planned to relocate in places where the people were more receptive.
it is frustrating to work and not see the results of our labour. parents, educators, mentors… we’ve been there and felt it. we want to throw our hands up and say: «that’s it! i’ve had enough.»
today’s word is addressed to those who want to quit: keep sowing… because GOD’s word is efficacious.
let’s situate today’s parable of the sower. the disciples are disheartened. jesus has had very little «success». the pharisees are against him. the crowds come to him, but only to benefit from his power.
every israelite listening to the parable could identify with every detail: some seed necessarily fell on hard ground; much of their land was limestone, and beneath a few inches of soil there was rock; the soil which looked clean could have fibrous roots of weeds. every detail was commonplace except one: the size of the harvest. a farmer who reaped a fivefold harvest was considered fortunate; a sevenfold harvest was a bounty attributable to GOD’s blessing, and reason to celebrate. a thirty-fold harvest? unheard of. sixty-fold, hundred-fold? impossible!
when we sow GOD’s word, there will be miraculous success despite initial frustration.
the first reading gives us reason for confidence in an abundant harvest: just as rain inevitably brings forth fruitfulness, GOD’s word is efficacious.
the sower knows soils are different. he accepts that the seed will grow differently. he sows anyway; he sows everywhere.
and so we ought. in an age that looks for quick results, we need to sow the seed with patience and in hope that what we sow will—in the end—produce a harvest… even when it appears pointless, even when it appears that every inch of ground is worthless. keep sowing the seed… because GOD’s word is efficacious.
will i quit or will i keep sowing?