Jesus Christ Sows Viable Seeds (Word) in our Hearts
Readings: 1st: Ish 55, 10-11; Ps 64, 10-14; 2nd: Rom 8, 18-23; Gos Mtt 13, 1-25
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans), Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today being the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, we celebrate Christ who came to sow the seed of the Word of God both in our hearts and in the world at large. Through this celebration, the Church enjoins us to re-evaluate our relationship with the Word of God which his ministers and Christ representatives sow in our hearts every day. We must also re-evaluate the fertility of our souls, and how much fruit we allow this Word bear in our life.
In the first reading of this Sunday, the prophet Isaiah compares the Word of God to rain and snow that falls on the ground: “As the rain and snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth…so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty without carrying out my will and succeeding…” this is a statement of fact and also, of assurance to those who believe, accept it with faith, and live it out in their life. The Word will accomplish because it is itself not empty since fire begets fire. This is a sign that the seed of the Word that God sends forth into our hearts and the world is viable and not sterile. “His Word (the seed) is Yes and Amen” (1 Cor 1, 20) only for those who allow it to influence them positively. It has full potency and must give life to anyone that provides a conducive environment for it to germinate, grow and bear abundant fruits. However, it can also bring condemnation upon those who toil with it and refuse to believe it as Jesus Says: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (Jh 5, 24). Also, He says: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (Jh 3, 18). This is because it will stand to testify against us on the day of reckoning. In this case, either ways, it will not return to God void or empty; it is either that we allow it to present us before the throne of God as worthy children of God or on the contrary , it will present us as culprits, and un-repented souls only fit for damnation. It can never return void because it will either acquit us or convict us. This is why the Word of God is a two edged sword (Heb 4, 12). God’s Word therefore, has a valuable purpose which must be accomplished!
In the second reading, Paul makes two categorical statements. The first is all about the expectation or longing of the world: “…The creation is eagerly waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.” The second is: “From the beginning till now the entire creation, and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first fruit of the Spirit.” In the first, Paul sets one wondering what the outcome of this manifestation would be. Of course, it is to be taken for granted that it will be positive, since those whom he is talking about are sons of God. This manifestation means to bring forth, to bear, or to reveal what is borne within us. Therefore, as vessels filled with the Word of God, we are expected to emit good fragrance when we are eventually revealed or manifested. To cap it all, Paul went ahead to talk about how we and the entire creation groan in one great act of giving birth. What are we to give birth to? It is the fruits of the Holy Spirit which we bear within us by the reason of the Word of God and anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is only when we have manifested ourselves as good fruit – bearing children of God that we can be set free ourselves. If not, like a pregnant woman under the pains of labour we shall continue to groan under the burden. This means that as children of God in whom the seed of the Word of God has been sown, and upon whom the anointing of the of the Holy Spirit rests, there is great expectation from us. And the product of this expectation of our manifestation should be nothing short of positive. Anything short of this means a negation of what and who we ought to be. It must be good because what God placed in us is good – a viable seed. In order words, it is garbage-in, garbage-out and, whatever goes in must come out even better and of course without corruption or shortage.
Looking at the gospel of this Sunday on Jesus’ parable of the sower, the questions that suffice include: Does it in any mean that some of the seeds were not viable for sowing, did the sower not do his job well by being careless with the seeds, and whose fault was it that some of the seeds fell on sandy, thorny and rocky soil? I thinks the seeds were viable ones, if not the sower would not have carried them. This is a parable, and simply put, God is the Sower and our hearts, the different types of soils upon which the seeds fell. By spreading the seeds everywhere without considering the nature of the soil and where they fall is an indication of God’s openness, outstretched arms, and his willingness to let all and sundry have and hear his Word which the seed represents. It is a sign that “God has no favorite” (Acts 10, 34), and that he wishes that all peoples hear the good news and repent. However, it is only those who are open and whose hearts are fertile that will receive this Word and allow it to germinate, grow and bear fruits in them.
The parable of the sower speaks to all of us. If we examine and tell ourselves the truth, each one of us will convincingly find our position within it, the type of soil we are and how far we have handled the seed sown in us. What do we do with the Word of God we hear proclaimed to us every day is one question I constantly put to my parishioners. This is because, for many, we have become used to it that it no longer makes meaning to us, and we have developed a very hard and tough skin towards it that it can no longer penetrate the walls of our heart. Do we still heed the call and instruction of the Word of God, and has it brought any ontological or functional change in our lives? If after hearing this Word preached to us every day and we still did not make heaven, who is to blame? Our pastors, priests, parents, brothers and sister, who? Of course, the obvious answer is, “I”, because to whom much is given much is expected. The Word of God is meant to transform us and help us live a better and healthier life. Above all, it is supposed to help us affect others positively. God does not send and sow his Word so that plants and trees are able to grow and live, but rather, so that we are able to grow and live. His Word gives and sustains new life in us. Yes, his Word brings “new life” because without that Word, we were dead in sin. Yes, without the knowledge of Jesus as our Savior, we were dead people. Maybe we are walking around and breathing here on this earth, but unfortunately and practically speaking, most of us are dead because we have no hope in eternal life Word of God, and there is nothing to look forward to except eternal death in hell as a punishment for our rejection of God’s Word.
Therefore, if we have faith in our hearts, we have life given to us and created in us by that powerful Word. And that faith in your hearts is a proof that God’s Word powerfully accomplishes the purpose for which God sent it. Sadly though, many people doubt the power of that Word. They doubt the value of that Word and what it can do for them in their lives. Unfortunately, and sadly also, sometimes we are those people! Our faith depends upon hearing God’s powerful and life-giving Word as Paul says: “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.” (Rom, 10 10-17). May we all grow and mature in our faith, and may we see the necessity of accepting the Word of God in giving us life. Amen!
Peace be with you all!!