July 13, 2008
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

First Reading: Isaiah 55: 10-11
Psalm 65
Second Reading:
Romans 8: 18-23
Gospel: Matthew 13: 1-23

Theme: Jesus, my “Last Stop”

When Jesus is our “Last Stop,” we are able to proclaim his Word by our lifestyles. But first, a short story. The story goes that:

“A fussy young woman was committed to being a vegetarian, but was never satisfied with any of the fruits or vegetables she bought. For her, all melons were too ripe or not ripe enough. In her eyes, she could never find tomatoes that weren’t bruised. Heads of cauliflower and broccoli were either too big or too little. She was never happy. Then one day she drove past a new store on the street with a long line of people waiting to get in. She looked and the sign read, “GOD’S FRUIT AND VEGETABLE STAND.” She had found her “last stop” so she said, “Ah finally, I can get some decent vegetables and fruits.” So, she stood on line and waited. Hours went by before she walked into that door. She was enveloped in light, but she didn’t see any apples or oranges or tomatoes or cabbages, or anything to buy. She walked to the light, and there was a counter. Behind the counter stood God. She could tell it was God because of the light, and because he had an apron on with a big “G” on it. Anyway, she placed her order, “I would like some perfect broccoli, and some perfect carrots, some perfect tomatoes and a perfect melon. “Sorry,” God said, “I only sell seeds here.” She did not know what to do next.

Three disabilities scare us from accepting the Word of God into our hearts and proclaiming it with our life, namely:

1. We lack understanding

2. We lack the will and discipline

3. By contemporary observation, God’s Word is not a priority.

The Parable of the Sower implies that it is simply not enough for me to be a priest and for you to hear or listen or read the Bible. Our life must express the Word of God to the world. In short, you and I must act as people of the Word. As Priest and parishioners, it is not enough to come to Church; we must become true Church and parish and gospel to each other.

As God throws his seeds at us, he expects us to be good soils that would nurture and strengthen the roots of the seeds in order for them to thrive and prosper. St. Paul, in today’s second reading, challenges us to swallow our pride and ego for the sake of the Word. Of course, we may not want to put our pride and ego on the back burners on the stove!

So, what does the Word of God expects of us? The Word of God expects us to RESPECT and to PROTECT God’s creation. But how can that respect and protection thrive when society degrades women and subjects them to sexual and other abusive situations and pornographic duties? How can we respond in respect and protection of God’s Word that came to us through a woman, when men continue to treat women not as people and equal partners to love but as objects of entertainment? Regrettably, a certain percentage of influential women – celebrities – contribute to mistreating women – all in the name of “Women’s Liberation.” How can the Word of God take root in our hearts and lives when we have replaced the Creator’s original rich soil within us with the world’s “sewage?” How can the Word of God take seed in us when we condone immorality in the name of “political correctness” or our fear of offending the other or under the pretext, “It is my right” – “It is our right?” How can we make a difference when we willingly partake of worldly affairs that are ungodly and are not life giving?

In the Parable of the Sower, God is the sower; we are the soil that ought to yield 100 – 60 – 30 folds [contrast Luke’s 30 – 60 – 100]. Consider the gradation! As the rich soil, God expects us to become seeds that express his love and compassion. Do we readily do this? May be not entirely! Can we become fields of God’s compassion to each other and to the world, and especially, to those who have offended us? Yes, we can! Just consider the following captivating story “Spiritual Evolution: A Scientific Defense of Faith” [George E. Vaillant, MD. New York: Broadway Books].

One fourteen year-old boy in a program had shot and killed an innocent teenager to prove himself to a gang. At the trial, the victim’s mother sat impassively silent until the end, when the youth was convicted of the killing. After the verdict was announced, she stood up slowly and stared intently and directly at him and stated, “I’m going to kill you.” Then the youth was taken away to serve his sentence in the juvenile corrections. After the first half year, the mother of the slain child went to visit her son’s killer. The killer had been living on the streets before the killing, and she was the only visitor that would visit him in his jail cell for his years of incarceration. For a time they talked, and when she left, she gave him some money for cigarettes. Then she started step by step to visit him more regularly, bringing him food and small gifts. Near the end of his three-year sentence, she asked him what he would be doing when he got out. He was confused and very uncertain, so she offered to help him set up with a job at a friend’s company. Then, she inquired about where he would live, and since he had no family to return to, she offered him temporary use of the spare room in her home. Perhaps, the room of her dead son? For eight months, he lived there, ate her food, and worked at the job. Then one evening, she called him into the living room to talk. She sat down opposite him and waited. Then she started, “Do you remember in the courtroom when I said I was going to kill you?” “I sure do! I will never forget that moment,” he replied. “Well, I did,” she went on. I did not want the boy who could kill my son for no reason remain alive on this earth. I wanted him to die. That’s why I started to visit you and bring you things. That’s why I got you the job and you live here in my house. That’s how I set about changing you. And that old boy in you, he’s gone. So now I want to ask you, since my son is gone, and that killer in you is gone, if you’ll stay here with me. I’ve got room, and I’d like to adopt you as my son if you let me.” And she became the mother he never had.”

This story is indicative that when we permit the gospel message of Jesus – the Logos – the Word of God to take root in our hearts and lives, we see no need to return hatred with hatred. When God’s Word is alive and active in our lives, we surrender our will, might and comfort to God before the lures of the world choke them. When God’s Word is alive and active in our lives, we stand above a religion or faith or Church or parish that has become a spiritual reality but without discipline and commitment. Now that we have heard the Word of God proclaim to our hearing, are we willing to become rich and fertile soils full of God’s love and compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation? Yes, we can if we make Jesus “The Last Stop” of every act and decision, and as our foundation of spiritual life and intimacy with God!

Father John-Baptist Okai
Priest Moderator
St. Cecilia Parish, Regina SK Canada

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