Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.
Brothers and sisters: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
Gospel Cycle Cycle A
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold. Whoever has ears ought to hear. The disciples approached him and said, Why do you speak to them in parables? He said to them in reply, Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted, and I heal them. But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold.
How powerful is the word of our God! God promises us that He will not let His Word come to us without its effect. So often we doubt these promises of God. So often we want results in our lives. We need always to ask ourselves: Am I listening to the Word of God? Do I allow room for the Word of God in my life? Do I reflect on the Word of God so that I can understand it more fully and allow God to bring about its effects more profoundly in me?
The first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, tells us that God promises that His Word will achieve the end for which it was sent. That is an incredible promise to us! When we speak of the Word of God and think of it as Scripture, we can begin to trust the deepest meanings of Scripture. Those meanings always come out like this: God loves us, God forgives us, God invites us to share His life, God wants our love. That is such a strong message for us!
When we think of the Word of God as Jesus Himself, then the deepest meaning is that God wills our salvation. Sure, we can resist it. That is the very basis of our human freedom. On the other hand, it seems to take so little to cooperate with the Word of God at a very basic level: trying to love God or others in the least degree is an immense cooperation with the Word of God!
When we listen to the parable in the Gospel, we learn more about the Word of God. If we do not strive to understand the Word of God, it can be taken away from us. We must realize what an immense treasure has been given to us in the Scriptures and in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we begin to understand this immense treasure, we strive to deepen that understanding.
We can do this with a lot of joy and yet still allow the troubles of our life to make us reject the Word of God. Sometimes we turn in on ourselves and forget to trust in the all-powerful Word of God. Sometimes it is the challenge of our own anxiety—and many of us can identify with that! Or we can buy into the present culture which tells us that we should always have more—and lures us into caring only about ourselves and about no one else.
May God form us today so that we can hear the Word of God, that we can respond to that Word and that we can rejoice in the love and compassion of our God!