Homily for the fifteenth Sunday of the year

Year A  -  Mt. 13:1-9


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying:

"«A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.»"



Homily:


"That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables."

In the Holy Scriptures, and particularly in the gospels, we sometimes find certain details and descriptions which can seem to be completely unremarkable during an initial - and perhaps quick - reading, but which strike the mind more profoundly when we go deeper into the text, for example by placing it in relation to another passage, often one that is not similar to it, but rather complementary.

In the present case, let us read the following passage from the gospel of Saint John which tells us about the miraculous catch of fish after the Resurrection of the Lord: "Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, «Children, have you any fish?»  They answered him, «No.»  He said to them, «Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.»  So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish." (Jn. 21:4-6)

If we compare Saint Matthew and Saint John, we see that, in Saint Matthew, Jesus is in the boat and the crowd is on the shore, while in Saint John it is the disciples who are in the boat and Jesus who is on the shore. Now, if this inversion exists, it is precisely because Jesus, in Saint John, is risen!  But what is important here is that, if we read the gospel, day after day, and Sunday after Sunday, we do so in order that we, who are now alive, might also resurrect with Christ when the end of time arrives.

Thus, today's gospel must be read - as always, but this is especially true in this case - in the perspective of the Resurrection, when we shall be but one with Christ, for we shall be similar to him (cf. 1 Jn. 3:2), "for we shall see him as he is." (ibid.)  Thus, rereading it in the light of Saint John, the passage from Saint Matthew shows us the crowd as though it were Jesus himself who was on the shore: a crowd of men and women resurrected in Christ for having been faithful to the Word of God until the end, "a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues." (Rev. 7:9)

"«A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.»"

The meaning of this parable was revealed by Jesus himself: all we need to do is to read verses 18 to 23 from chapter 13 of Saint Matthew.  But this is not what we are looking at today when we reread this passage from the gospel.  We should rather direct our attention to the general sense or import of this parable.  Now, this is precisely what we have been doing today from the very beginning: we have discovered that this passage from the gospel proclaims to us, symbolically, our own resurrection in Christ.

To expand on this, we shall say that Jesus wants to warn us that our resurrection with him depends upon our fidelity to his word.   At this point, we must pay close attention to, and understand, what Jesus wishes to tell us; for he ends his parable with the words:  "He who has ears, let him hear."  This is a little ironic, but it is above all an important warning.  So what does Jesus want to tell us?  Let us count the examples given in the parable of the Sower:  there are four.  Of these four examples, three allude to cases in which the seed does not bear fruit, and only one alludes to a case in which the seed does bear fruit, whether it be a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold.

We have counted accurately:  only one seed in four produces fruit!  Does this not remind us of another passage from the gospel where it is written:  "Many are called, but few are chosen." (Mt. 22:14)?  And this one : "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Mt. 7:13-14)  So we see that the warning Jesus gives us in the parable of the Sower is an important one!  In fact, this warning resounds throughout the gospel, even in Jesus' cry of sorrow on the cross, when he said:  "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mt. 27:46)  For at that point in time, Jesus, at the height of his suffering, sees, in the vision of God, the immense number of men and women who would reject the Salvation that he so dearly bought!

Let us ask Mary, the Mother of God, our Mother, to help us to understand her Divine Son's cry!  Let us ask Mary to keep for us in her Immaculate Heart this Word of God that saves the World!  May Jesus not have spoken in vain when he said:  "He who has ears, let him hear!"