July 12: Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Readings: 1. Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm: 65; 2. Romans 8:18-23; Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23.
Although Matthew has much to say to us this Sunday, it is really in conjunction with Isaiah and Paul that we understand fully the overarching point he is making.
It is in Isaiah that the line of thought for today is set. His presentation of a simple comparison makes a clear and direct point. The image of watering the earth, and then seeing its fruits, helps explain what should naturally result upon hearing the Word of God. The comparison immediately throws into relief what God expects of his people. Isaiah, commissioned to speak for God, is to proclaim God’s Word and do it with powerful effect.
Paul’s thinking in the verses from Romans looks to a future when God’s plan will reach its goal. For Paul, this is all about the glory or honour that awaits all God’s children. This earthly life, with its sufferings and stresses, is not to be regarded as unbearable and hopeless. Rather, it should be seen as preparation for the day of full revelation when the Almighty welcomes his faithful children into eternal glory.
Matthew’s Jesus, when he speaks in parables, teaches using comparisons that start to reveal the mystery of the kingdom of heaven. Today’s example of the sower and the various seeds growing differently calls for insight of some sort. So careful or lax planting determines the success or failure of the crops. What this all means is further explained by Jesus when he makes a number of comparisons detailing how well the Word he speaks has been received and given practical application. All of his examples, therefore, illustrate what exactly Jesus is asking of his followers.
The Word of God this Sunday is a poignant reminder that we of faith are called to carry that Word and bear fruit abundantly for the world to see.