15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A ON JULY 12, 2020 (R. 1: Isaiah 55: 10-11; Psalm 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14; R. 2: Romans 8: 18- 23; Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23)
FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
JUST KEEP PLANTING
Love: What a beautiful reality! Love: What a mysterious reality! Have you ever been in love? Have you realized that giving someone your love is never a guarantee that they will love you back? Oh! How it hurts to love someone and not to be loved in return. And do you know what hurts more? It is investing so much in the one you love and seeing your beloved turning down your love and running after someone else who has nothing good to offer your beloved. If you have ever experienced that or imagined that, then you have an idea of what Jesus is passing through in today’s Gospel passage.
Let us take a look at the context of today’s gospel passage. It is from the 13th chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew. That is, about halfway into the Gospel according to Matthew. Jesus came into this world as a human being for the sake of love. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” For the sake of love, Jesus became a human being; for the sake of love, Jesus took responsibility for sin that he did not commit.
Jesus began his public ministry preaching, teaching, healing, and doing many other good works. About halfway into his public ministry, he looked back to examine the progress he had made, and it was discouraging. Remember that when Jesus became a human being, he was not play-acting, he was not pretending about it. He was subject to temptation, discouragement, and all other forms of human vulnerability. He discovered that the priests, the religious leaders, and the teachers of the law, who should have known better, were his chief opposers. He had only a handful of disciples, who sometimes were not firm in their faith. At that point, Jesus, as a human being, had to do a reality check. He must have thought to himself, “Wait a minute! Is this whole business worth it?” Upon prayerful reflection, he came up with seven parables about the kingdom he came to establish. We shall set aside three successive Sundays to reflect on these parables. We shall reflect on one of them today, three of them next Sunday, and the last three will be on the Sunday after next Sunday.
Today’s parable is the parable of the sower. Jesus gave this parable in the first place, to encourage himself. He is the sower; he is the teacher; he is the preacher. Discouragement was setting in because many, especially those he trusted, those who should have known better, were not getting his message, and they were planning to destroy him and his message. The punch line of this parable is that there will be harvest in the end, for even though some of the seeds will fall on rocky grounds, some among thorns, and some by the roadside, some will undoubtedly fall on good soil. With this, Jesus encouraged himself to focus on the good soil and carry on with his good works.
On the other hand, Jesus gave this parable to challenge his listeners. Notice that nothing was wrong with the seeds at the time of planting. The same good seeds fell on the different grounds. The outcome was determined by where they fell on. There was nothing wrong with the message and the kingdom that Jesus came to preach; it was more about the hearts that were receiving the message. Have you noticed how people attend the same Mass, listen to the same homily, and have contradicting feedbacks? One may say, “I have no idea what Father was preaching today. It seemed he did not prepare for this homily. He wasted my precious time.” And from the same congregation, another person would say, “I thank God I came to Mass. I needed to hear what Father said today; the Holy Spirit certainly speaks through him.” As parents, maybe you have two children, brought up in the same home, same discipline, same upbringing, but one turns out to be the pride of the family, and the other one makes you wonder where you went wrong. As teachers, we may be facing similar situation regarding our students. Or, generally, as human beings, we may find ourselves in situations where no matter what we do, there is that person or group of persons who will never see anything good about what we do, no matter what we do and how we do it.
No matter where we fall into, there is a message for all of us. If you are the judge or the fault finder, the word for you today is: before you pass judgment on the preacher, the teacher, the parent, the leader or whomever you are judging, first ask yourself, “What kind of eyes am I using to look at this person, and what kind of heart am I using to pass this judgment? Maybe I need repentance.” A comedian once told some of those in his audience who were not laughing for his jokes, “It is not that my jokes are not funny; it is just that many of your problems are bigger than my jokes.”
On the other hand, if you are the one facing discouragements because your good works are being attacked by those who should know better, Jesus is encouraging you to focus on the harvest. Even if many don’t turn out well, some of your seeds will undoubtedly fall on the good soil, so for the sake of the good soil, keep planting. If there is any good thing you are doing, ignore the voices of discouragement, and keep doing the good, keep planting the good seed. Remember, in the end; we will be judged not only by the result but also by the efforts we made. May the Lord bless the works of our hands, through Christ our Lord. Amen.