15th Sunday (A)

The establishment of the Kingdom of God was the main emphasis of Jesus in His public ministry. The inaugural message was repent and believe the Gospel for the Kingdom of God is close at hand. John the Baptist too did spoke of the Kingdom of God. I believe it is the awareness and acknowledgement of His presence and responding to the call of God, by living out the plan God has for us would be in tune with the Kingdom of God. St. Paul writing to the Romans 14, 17 has a very nice expression: “the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The disciples asked him; where is the Kingdome of God? His reply to them was spontaneous, that “It is within you.” It is the realization of God within us, God with us and God for us.

The Gospel of today is an example of how we could become members of this kingdom. Jesus compared the Kingdom to a sower going out and spreading seed. The sower is God himself and the seeds are his words. The ground is what we are, our openness and response will be judged by the kind of fruits that we produce. If we introspect into our lives, we could easily understand the disposition of our mind and the kind of response we make, because we are judged by the kind of fruits we bear.

  1. The soil along the path refers to the hardened heart:

This soil is too hard to absorb the seed.   Soon the birds eat it up or passers-by trample it under foot.  Jesus explains that this soil is like the person who hears the word of God without letting it sink in. The seed/word is then replaced by worldly concerns. This type of soil represents people with hard hearts and closed minds due to laziness, prejudice, fear, pride or immoral living.

  1. The soil on flat circular pieces of limestone is the distracted heart:

This soil-type represents emotional people who always look for novelties without taking permanent interest in anything. Jesus explains that this kind of person is at first impressed by the message, but quickly loses interest because of the effort needed to keep the word alive.  We have the example of a group of disciples who followed Jesus for a long time until the day he announced that he is the “bread of life”.  They found that teaching “too hard to accept” and just drifted away.

  1. The soil filled with weeds is the defeated heart:

This soil represents people addicted to evil habits and evil tendencies and those whose hearts are filled with hatred, jealousy and greed. They are interested only in acquiring money by any means and in enjoying life in any way possible.  Jesus explains that these people are filled with worldly interests that undermine them.  The classic example is Judas who follows Jesus for a long time, but in the end cannot let go of his worldly interests and so exchanges his Lord for earthly silver.

  1. The good soil is the hopeful and joyful heart:

This soil-type represents the people who hear the word of God diligently and keep it. They have open hearts filled with holiness and humility. They are eager to hear the word and ready to put it in to practice.  They are attentive to the Holy Spirit. Fortunately, the gospel is filled with people who have accepted the Lord’s message and whose lives have been changed. Jesus’ words, in spite of obstacles and barriers, will produce the kingdom. Although the seed may seem scattered at random, it will nevertheless produce amazing results: thirty-fold, sixty-fold – even a hundred-fold, an enormous yield with modern farming methods.

St. Ignatius of Loyola in his spiritual writings speaks about three categories of people and their response to the word of God. The first category is ever open to the word of God and they listen attentively, but nothing strikes their hear as they are superficial and not interested. The second category is also open and attentive, but they put a sieve to filter and accept what is convenient to them. What is difficult and challenging according to the demands of the Gospel is not acceptable to them. The third category is ever open and they translate the word of God into their lives. Their response is like Samuel the prophet “speak Lord your servant is listening.” These are the categories that Jesus himself compares to the man who built his house on rock.

What kind of soil are we?

How do we respond to the word of God, and to the various Acts of God in our lives? Do we allow the trials and tribulations of this world to overwhelm the tender seed growing within us?  Do we pull back when people harass us because we are believers?  Do we decide, because things are not working out the way we think they ought, that God doesn’t care for us, or that He is powerless, weak and not to be heeded? Do we allow the cares of this world, our ambitions or our desires for success and happiness to choke out the messages that God sends us through the various events of our daily lives and through the various people we encounter? How we respond to the Word of God is the key to how fruitful the gospel is going to be in our lives. Unlike the situation in nature, we can, as it were, change the kind of soil that we are. God allows the seed to land on the hard paths, on the rocky ground and in the thickets of our lives in the hope that in those places it will find a place to mature and bear fruit, that those things which impede growth will be removed and that the soil may be just a little deeper than it at first appears to be in those rocky places.