This week of our growing as we tend toward the celebration of the Eucharist, we could pray with the constancy of God’s shining love. We could check to see if we are under some shadowy cloud which prevents that Shining upon us. We could pray with the temptations to evaluate or compare ourselves about how we are growing. We could imagine one corn stalk looking around and trying to figure out if it is growing as well or faster than the others. We could pray with the thought that God gives the increase and we just have to be in the correct position for receiving.
The Book of Consolation, (chapters 40-55) of the prophet Isaiah, is comprised of various poems, sayings, images and promises made by God to the people of Israel who have been in captivity. It is a book of hope and speaks mainly of God’s covenant of ever lasting love.
In today’s First Reading we hear a few lines of summary as the Book is ending. An agricultural image is used, moisture falling upon the earth to bring forth fruitfulness. The Word, the Covenant, the presence, the love of God is to be upon the earth like rain, and will not vanish until the earth becomes the reflection of God’s Holy Will.
For Israel it meant that God was going to give them back their land and their identity as God’s “choicest Vine”. They have been purified of their adulterous ways and find hope in these words of the prophet. They will be cared for by the faithful God and they will again be God’s people and live according to their name. God is faithful even when the earth rebels. God is faithful to the earth - the land - even when it refuses to receive the sun and the rain.
These next three Sundays we will be hearing several of the parables from this chapter which is full of parables.
The Gospel for today has three sections. The first is the relating of the parable of the Sower and the Seed. The second section is actually the heart of the whole chapter. The third section is the explanation of the parable which is easy to hear and understand. I intend not to reflect on the meaning of the Sower and the various conditions into which the Seed falls.
We ask as did the disciples about just why Jesus uses these figures of speech which are so open to various interpretations. Why not just come right out and tell it like it ought to be!
The context for the parables is the tension between the new teachings of Jesus and the Pharisees who are holding on to their position within the Jewish religious community. Jesus has not been asking them to denounce or let go of their relationship with the God of the Covenants. He has been inviting them to receive Him as a continuation or maturing of that relationship. In the previous chapter, they have begun plotting to kill him. He has continued to annoy them. The last few verses of that chapter contain the picture of Jesus telling the people that His true mother and brothers are not the ones who are outside looking for Him, but those who hear His words and live them. After all this, Jesus leaves home, gets into a boat, and begins telling these parables to the crowds on the shore. Parables are easy to hear, remember and apply to life. They are similar to poems; they say it clearly to those who are available to the poetic style. They are confusing to those who like the easy factual displays. Jesus does tell it like it is, but….
Jesus speaks to the disciples after telling the parable. The “you”
are the disciples; the “them” are the Pharisees. What
has been “granted” is an interior knowledge of the mysteries
of the kingdom. The Pharisees were granted the opportunity to see
and hear, but they did not see and hear mystery, they wanted the
security of controlling knowledge. So even what they have will be
Many will try to figure out what kind of soil they are into which the Word comes. Don’t go there; it ends up only in self-negativity and preoccupation. Rather, go to the Sower, to the Rain-Sender and do not ask questions which will take away mystery, such as the Pharisees asked. Listen with the ears you have and see with the eyes you have that certainty and security are traps and lead only to yourself. The Kingdom is established on the fidelity of God Who has made promises and that Love will remain around and within us until what it was sent to do in me and you is accomplished
“The sparrow even finds a home, the swallow finds a nest wherein to place her young, near to your altar, Lord of Hosts, my king and my God! How happy they who dwell in your home! For ever they are praising You.” Ps. 84, 4-5
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