for the fifteenth Sunday of the Year
Is 55:10-11 - Rm 8:18-23 - Mt 13:1-9
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
The Spirit and the Body
Is 55:10, For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
In this Sunday's liturgy, and particularly in the first reading, taken from the Prophet Isaiah, the Lord tries to make us understand in what consists his action in the world, which is a spiritual action (for "God is spirit" - Jn 4:24), comparing it to a material, corporeal, sensible and vivid action. In a word, the Lord places himself in our reach by presenting to us his action in the world both spiritually and corporeally: as we are made of a body and a soul, a presentation of the action of God that is both spiritual and material is perfectly adapted to our person. Hence the title of this homily: the Spirit and the Body.
Through the mouth of the Prophet Isaiah, the Lord compares the action of his Word to the action of the rain or snow that falls on the earth to give it its necessary moisture. The first thing to note here is that man masters neither the rain nor the snow. With respect to time, man cannot make it rain or snow when he wants it to, nor can he stop the rain or snow when he wants it to stop. With respect to the quantity of rain or snow, man is incapable of avoiding either drought, through lack of water, or flooding, through excess of rain or snow. By this comparison, the Lord wants to show us the Omnipotence of his Word, a Word that man cannot control just as he cannot control the rain or snow.
Of course, when man respects the rights of God and the laws of nature, when man fully entrusts himself to divine Providence, then rain and snow fall in the desired time and quantity, preventing drought and floods. The same is true for the Word of God: let us observe the commandments of God and of the Church, let us trust the Lord, believing in his Word that saves, and thus we will live happily, sharing in the very Life of God, here on earth and in Heaven for eternity!
Rom 8:18, I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19, For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; 20, for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 21, because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22, We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 23, and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
From the moment when the Word of God became flesh, ever since the very Son of God became incarnate in the womb of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Prophecy of Isaiah was realized perfectly, in fullness, in Christ: "So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it." (Is 15:11) Jesus comes not only to recreate man by redeeming him with his sacrifice on the Cross, but he also comes to give all of material creation the beginning of renewal, or of re-creation. In Jesus, by Him and through Him, all that is uniquely spiritual and all that is uniquely corporeal finds its fullness and perfection. This is why Jesus bears both the name of "Paraclete" and that of "Stone": he is the first Paraclete, while the Holy Spirit is "another Paraclete" (Jn 14:16); and he is the "living stone... in God's sight chosen and precious" (1 Pt 2:4).
Mt 13:1, That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2, And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3, And he told them many things in parables, saying: «A sower went out to sow. 4, And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5, Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. 7, Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8, Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9, He who has ears, let him hear.»
In this Sunday's gospel, the Lord speaks to us of a sower who went out to sow. And later in his discourse, Jesus explains to us that the seed is nothing other than the Word of God. Thus, with respect to the seed that falls on good earth, he says, "As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." (Mt 13:23) So here the spiritual Word of God is compared to a material seed cast onto the earth...
If we return to the first comparison, that of Isaiah, between the Word of God and the rain or snow, we see that there is a difference between the comparison of Jesus and that of Isaiah. Indeed, in Isaiah's comparison, the rain or snow falls on the earth only in virtue of the Providence of God, which created the world as it is; on the other hand, in Jesus' comparison, the seed falls onto the earth in virtue of the action of a man, the Sower, whose action conditions the action of the Providence of God that makes the seed germinate according to the laws of creation and of nature...
The Sower is, first of all, Jesus himself. But it is also the Church in her evangelizing action. When we proclaim the Word of God, let us therefore be vigilant, so that the seed of the Word of God might be cast onto good earth! Let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to guide our hand!