Thoughts on the Readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) 2017

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071617.cfm 

I have never been much of a gardener.   I am lucky if I can remember to water the few plants I have.   Our Gospel parable today, though, seems to suggest that there really isn’t much of an art to being a gardener/farmer.  In fact, in this Gospel, the process of sowing seeds seems almost haphazard.   We are told that when the sower went out to sow “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.”   Given this random and seemingly chaotic sowing process, you wouldn’t expect much of a harvest.  We are told, though, that the seed which fell on rich soil “produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”   This is an extraordinary harvest.   What are we to make of this?

First it is important to remember that parables were simple stories that Jesus used to teach his disciples something about God.   They were not meant to be taken literally.   Given this, we need to ask what was Jesus trying to tell us in the parable of the sower and the seeds?    Well, we know from the interpretation of this parable that the seed represents the message of the Kingdom of God.   The message of the Kingdom goes out to all people, but is received in a variety of ways.   Ultimately, though, the Kingdom of God will flourish, despite any obstacles to its growth. 

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   It shares the theme of the Gospel and reminds us that the word of the Lord “shall not return to me void, but shall do my will achieving the end for which I sent it.”   

In the second reading this weekend Paul reminds us that “the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”  

Questions for reflection/discussion:

  1. In our Gospel parable I was impressed with the size of the harvest for such a haphazard sowing process.  Usually sowing in the manner indicated in the parable would only produce a harvest of about 7%, but in this case Jesus talked of a harvest a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.   What does this suggest to you?   
  2. Have you ever experienced the message of the Kingdom taking root in your life?
  3. A friend of mine is fond of saying:  “No crown without a cross.”   Certainly we all experience some measure of pain and suffering in our lives.   Does believing in the “glory to be revealed for us,” help you when you experience suffering?      
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