15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Today we have a unique situation in the Gospel. The unique situation is that Jesus explains a parable. Usually we get the story and sometimes that meaning is obvious, but most times the meaning is far removed and we might struggle to understand it, except by grace or study. Yet today He does something different and gives the meaning for the people and how they are affected by the Word.

One great thing we start to see is that the sower is putting out seed no matter whether the ground is able to receive it or not.  He is almost wasteful but it means He gives each a chance to grow seed. The truth is that God’s word is all over the place.  The world is a written sacrament of His love. Nature tells of God’s love and mystery.  Conrad Black, who owns many newspapers, said that the Catholic Church is like a bumble bee.  The bee defies science because scientifically it can’t fly yet it does and the Church should not exist, there is so much that works against it, yet it still exists and, like the bee, produces honey. God writes His mysteries in nature and those who have eyes will see it.

It seems that the soil in the parable is the faith of a person.  In the first case we have the people that seem impenetrable to the mystery of God.  They have no faith. They are the atheists who choose to believe in anything but God. There are some that will go against their science.  They will believe in aliens, of which there is no proof of, instead of God. For these people, Satan has stolen the Word that is sown and they need praery and sacrifice to prepare their soil. There is still hope for them but people have to be willing to sacrifice and pray.

The second group has shallow soil and they like the things of God, the beauty of the teachings but when hard times come, or any demands of the Gospel, they fall away because they have not been supported in life. These people need community and love to give their soil depth. They need shelter and prayer and sacrifice as well.

The third type have good soil except they have little faith.  They have good human conditions and they need to be trained to weed their garden. I tried gardening this year and I am amazed how the weeds grow faster than the good plants.  You have to weed your garden and work on your faith by making acts of faith. If you are always thinking, “I will be more generous when I have more money,” or, “I will wait to have children when everything is perfect,” or, “I will be more helpful when I get this done,” most likely the weeds are choking your faith. If you think you only need 25% more to be secure you are being choked out of your faith life.  Or to think when everything is better I will go to Church is a weed choked field that will not produce fruit.  God calls and challenges us to live on the edge of life and to trust in Him. As our faith grows, we will be able to embrace the difficulties because we will see God training us to be better. I never understood why the saints liked suffering so much, but it is because in the suffering they were trained into being great saints.  If there were no tests they would not have become great. Just as with a student, if you think that you can just sit in school and get good grades and be a better person without doing anything, you are wrong. School has projects, assignments and tests to help you know the material. The same thing with athletes, they will not become great unless they challenge themselves to be better and at the end they praise their hardest coach who trained them for greatness. You and I have to start seeing our trials in this light. That child of yours who doesn’t practice their faith is an opportunity.  Your spouse who annoys you or makes life difficult, that person, that sickness, fires that drive us from our homes, these are all opportunities to grow and become a great saint. The saints lamented when God didn’t allow suffering because they knew that it would harm their perfection.  This is what faith does in our life - it deepens our soil and allows the daily grind to be a mill that grinds our wheat into tasty life giving bread. We must pray for the faith to be transformed.

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