15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A)
Reading 1 — Isaiah 55:10-11
Psalm — Psalm 65:10-15
Reading 2 — Romans 8:-18-23
Gospel — Matthew 13:1-23
Today’s scripture readings can give us a real sense of hope, because in a very powerful way, they proclaim that the power of the word of God will be fulfilled.
In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah speaks about the power of God’s word when everything seemed hopeless. He proclaimed those words to a nation that had been destroyed. Everything was demolished. Speaking in God’s name about the word of God, he said: “It will not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish my will, the purpose for which it has been sent.” Isaiah has this strong hope and confidence because God has spoken. Isaiah is telling us, reminding us, that God has spoken his word and it will happen. There is no doubt about that–the word of God will be accomplished. God’s words will not return void or empty.
In the second reading, St. Paul says to a certain degree the same thing when he spoke about how the spirit is present in the world. Just as Paul spoke about the suffering of the present life, he insisted there is still hope. He went on to say about how the spirit is throughout all of creation, all of creation is groaning until it comes to that new birth, a fullness of life. St. Paul is confident that God’s spirit is present and is changing, transforming our world into the reign of God.
In the Gospel, Jesus too, using a parable, was preaching about the word of God. He talked about how the farmer, the sower, goes out to sow the seed and throws it everywhere—some landed on the wayside and birds ate it; others fell on rocky ground; some fell on thin soil. So it sprouted but then there were no roots and so it was burned by the sun and died. Other seeds fell among the weeds and the thistles choked it as it grew up. But some fell on good ground. Jesus said that the seed that fell on good ground would produce 100, 60 or 30 fold. Jesus is here speaking about that same power of God’s word that Isaiah was thinking about and Paul was speaking about. That must have surprised his listeners, because normally they would have expected seed to yield at the most seven fold. But Jesus said the word of God would produce fruit that is beyond our imagination.
The parable makes all of us ask where we are: Are we the seed that fell along the path? The seed that fell on the rocky ground? The seed that got choked by the thistles, the weeds? Or are we the seed that fell on the good ground where it can take root, grow, change us and then enable us to help change this world? If evil seems to have the upper hand in our world, it is because we have not been listening to God’s word and putting it into practice.