Below is my homily for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. It was given to Ss. Cosmas & Damian Parish in Punxsutawney, PA on Saturday, July 15, 2017, at the 4:30 PM parish mass.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
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 thirtyfold.
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 thirtyfold.”
The Gospel of the Lord
When we hear this parable about the sower and the seed, we often only focus on the seed that is sown. Not much attention is given to the sower of the seed.
Anyone who is a gardener or a farmer would look at this parable with confusion: they would not be able to relate to this sower of seed. This sower of the seed in Christ’s parable is reckless. This sower is radically reckless. He scatters his seed all over, not just in the rich soil. What farmer or gardener would waste the precious seed that brought nourishment and prosperity to them and their family? No sensible person would do this!
And yet, Christ makes a point to tell us that this sower of the seed does not discriminate where he tosses his seeds. This sower is not radically reckless, but radically generous.
When Jesus Christ explains this parable, he explains it telling the meaning of the seed. It is implied the understanding of the sower.
Who is the one that sows?
God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
That is who sows. And what is it that He sows?
The Kingdom of God
God is so radically in love with us that he does not discriminate where he works. He does not choose just the wise and the learned. In fact, Jesus Christ’s focus was not on the wise and the learned, or the rich and wealthy, or the healthy person. His focus was on the outcasts of society!
The lepers who no one would go near: Jesus touched them
The ones labeled insane: Jesus freed them
The crippled: Jesus restored them
There are many people around us that Jesus Christ wants to touch, to free, to restore, to love. And he wants to do this for you too!
It doesn’t matter where you might find yourselves, whether you have fallen on the path, or you have landed amongst the thorns; Jesus Christ wants to pick you up too!
We come to Church every weekend, some of us every day. We are the ones that Christ has called to be his messengers to the world. His intentional disciples!! He says to us:
“Blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.”
Indeed, we are truly blessed! We have been given the opportunity to hear this Word of God and to have Jesus explain it to us!
Yet that’s not the end of the story.
We are not to be the rocky ground where the seed falls, being the ones to cause others to fall away from Christ. We are not to be the thorns, causing others to become chocked and go away from Christ. We are to be the rich seedbed where His Word can grow and be fruitful. We are to be the rich ground that others can plant their roots so as to come to know Christ better and in a new way. We do not need to know everything, and no matter how much we study, we won’t know everything, but we need to be willing to grow, to take that next step on the journey with Christ.
We need to be His disciples!
Every single person has this ability to be a disciple of Christ, and it is a journey that we need to take every day.
God is radically reckless, radically generous, radically in love with every single person. If we truly believe that God is in our midst, and that He has commanded us to love one another, shouldn’t we also be radically reckless, radically generous, radically in love with Him and those He has given us?
Fr. Andy Boyd is a Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Erie, PA. Currently, Father Andy is assigned to Saint George Parish in Erie, PA.
Father Andy entered seminary after high school, graduating from Gannon University and Saint Mark Seminary in 2014. In the fall of 2014, Father Andy began his Major Seminary Studies at Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe PA. Father Andy graduated from Saint Vincent Seminary with his Masters of Divinity in May 2018, and was ordained a priest in June 2018.
An avowed “Catholic Geek,” Fr. Andy spends his free time dabbling in media creation and network and server management.
Listen to Father Andy in his podcast Encounter Mercy.