The Power of the Seed of the Word When It Meets Good Soil, 16th Friday (I), July 24, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Charbel, Monk
July 24, 2015
Ex 20:1-17, Ps 19, Mt 13:18-23

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today’s Gospel gives us a chance to take anew the soil sample of our heart, to determine our receptivity and response to God’s action. God’s word, as we prayed in the Responsorial Psalm, has the power of eternal life. Jesus wishes it to bear 30, 50, 100 and more in us, and it has the ability to change in life in these types of big number ways, but that depends on the soil that receives that word.
  • To have good soil begins with a real reverence for the power of the Word. Then it requires tilling hardened soil, drilling through the rocky layers underneath shallow soil, and taking out the thorn bushes of worldly cares and anxieties that can choke the growth of the good seed. Doing all of this allows us to hear the Word with an understanding heart and allow its power to begin to transform us and through us the world.
  • Today in the first reading we can examine the soil we have to the Ten Commandments and how much fruit they have borne in our life.
    • There are many who respond to the Decalogue with hardened soil. Even those who grew up as Catholics and Jews, when they hear the Commandments they think about them as suggestions and often reject them. They serve idols of their own making, often materialistic golden calves. They treat Sunday as if it’s just another day or day off. They build whole industries off breaking the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” which is what Planned Parenthood and the abortion business is all about. They are stubbornly resistant to the Sixth Commandment and prefer the make-it-up-as-you-go-along dictates of the sexual revolution. They covet and believe their envy is justified.
    • There are others who respond with superficial soil. They memorize the commandments. They see them as coming from God. But when tribulations come up, the commandments take a back seat and they don’t bear fruit in training them to love God and love neighbor, which is what the two tablets of the law do respectively as Jesus himself said (Mt 22:40).
    • There are others for whom worldly cares and anxieties choke the growth of the seed. They give in to various pleasures or various fears, which lead them to relativize the force of the Commandments. We see with many teenagers, for example, that selfishly seeking the satisfaction of desires or excessive concern about their future, leads them to neglect and dishonor their parents, or to tell a lie to them or to their teachers or coaches when they haven’t done what they were expected to do, or even to steal something when they don’t have the money to purchase it. They’re otherwise good kids, kids who pray, kids who want a relationship with God, but they’re full of thorn bushes and it impedes the growth of God such that the Commandments bear little fruit.
    • Then there are those with good soil in whom you can see abundant fruit from the life of the commandments. They really do love God with all their mind, heart, soul and strength. They use their capacity for speech to speak to him in prayer and speak about him with reverence, rather than blaspheme. They not only show up at Sunday Mass, but truly live it as the highlight of their week and live Sunday as a day real day for love, love for the Lord, for family members and for others. They are dedicated to their parents. They seek to affirm the lives of others. They treat those to whom their attracted with purity, piety, chastity and fidelity. They are happy when others are blessed. They tell others the truth. They become, in short, virtuous through the keeping of the commandments and not only sacrifice for others but become open through the pedagogy of the commandments for Jesus to take them much deeper into the Christian way, something that allows them to bear even greater fruit.
  • Our receptivity is not just to the “words” of God but the “Word of God.” That word has the power, we prayed in the Psalm, of everlasting life, something St. Peter himself affirmed in the Eucharistic discourse in Capernaum. Each Mass we not only receive that power through our ears when we hear the Word of God proclaimed, but through our mouths when the Word-made-flesh comes within. Jesus said once that he was the grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying in order to bear great fruit (Jn 12:24). He implants himself as that grain of wheat, as that good seed, within us today. May he through St. Charbel’s intercession — a monk who pondered the word of God and bore great fruit in holiness that nourished the whole Maronite Church — give us good and receptive soil so that, united as branches to the Vine (Jn 15), we may bear fruit that will remain into eternity!

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 Ex 20:1-17

In those days:
God delivered all these commandments:
“I, the LORD, am your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves
in the shape of anything in the sky above
or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;
you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God,
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness
on the children of those who hate me,
down to the third and fourth generation;
but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation
on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished
him who takes his name in vain.“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Six days you may labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter,
or your male or female slave, or your beast,
or by the alien who lives with you.
In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in them;
but on the seventh day he rested.
That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.“Honor your father and your mother,
that you may have a long life in the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you.“You shall not kill.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass,
nor anything else that belongs to him.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. (John 6:68c) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

Alleluia See LK 8:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 13:18-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Hear the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom
without understanding it,
and the Evil One comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
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