A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday Liturgy
BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (# 33)
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – July 10, 2005
“A Sower Went Out To Sow”
Is 55:10-11 // Rom 8:18-23 // Mt 13:1-23
I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS
This Sunday’s Gospel reading (Mt 13:1-23) is part of the series of parables on the Kingdom, which comprise Jesus’ third major discourse in the Gospel of Matthew (13:1-53). Jesus’ Kingdom parables are the following: the parable of the sower (v. 1-9), the parable of the darnel (v. 24-30), the parable of the mustard seed (v. 31-32), the parable of the yeast (v. 33), the parable of the treasure and of the pearl (v. 44-46), and the parable of the dragnet (v. 47-50). Parables are similes or metaphors drawn from everyday life or from nature.
The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, explain: “The literary genre and form of teaching that we call parables are not found exclusively in the New Testament, but the Gospel parables are the best known. Although simple and familiar, these unusually crisp and skillfully composed little narratives must not be taken lightly, as though they were pleasant but inconsequential stories. One feels that each is rich in meaning, even if this meaning is not immediately evident, at least not in all its depth. This is because the parables speak of the highest realities of faith, beginning with the mystery of Jesus’ own person and of God. Parables unveil some of these realities but in halftone or in a subdued light. It takes time to understand exactly what Jesus means when he teaches in parables. He himself explains this: Knowledge of the mystery of the kingdom has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted … This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see, and hear but do not understand. In order to understand parables, hearers must be attentive and open to the things of God. Besides – and this is not their least original trait – parables are aimed at hearers who accept confrontation and questioning. Often, the story leads hearers to bare the depths of their hearts.”
The first part of the parables’ discourse (Mt 13:1-35) depicts Jesus as sitting in the boat, with the crowds standing on the shore (v. 1-3). The eager crowds of country folks were not incorrigible in their unbelief and had the potential of opening their hearts to the words of Jesus. To them he addressed the parable of the sower and the seed. The seed sown by the sower fell on a footpath, on rocky ground, among thorns and on good soil. In the first three cases nothing occurs, but in the last case an abundant harvest was produced.
Eugene Maly remarks: “Scholars say that, when Jesus told the story, the only point he wanted to make was that of the great harvest. The other details about the varying fate of the sown seed, were there only for dramatic effect. This is because the heart of Jesus’ message was the coming of God’s reign. And that reign would mean the abundance of all good.”
Concerning the generous sower who had “broadcast” and thrown the good seed of the Kingdom everywhere, the authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, comment: “Jesus is this confident sower who had thrown his word, a seed of high quality, to the four winds … In the parable of the sower, what is in question is the word of the Kingdom. It is lavishly sown because the Lord wants to address all without discrimination.”
Likewise, St. John Chrysostom asserts: “The sower does not make distinctions between different soils; he simply throws the seed. Similarly, Jesus does not distinguish between rich and poor, learned and unschooled, careless and fervent, courageous and timid. His word concerns everybody.”
Though the parable underscores the inherent fecundity of the seed of God’s kingdom, it also emphasizes the responsibility and the positive response to be given by the recipients of the seed of the divine word. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, explicate: “The word attests to God’s obstinate faithfulness, long patience, and assiduous labor for the unfolding of salvation offered to all humankind. This word comes from God, who created human beings free, and who made with them a covenant of love. Efficacious, indescribably fecund, this word demands from human beings a willing response made of openness, conversion and ever-renewed trust in him who speaks it … Thanks to the generous manner in which the seed is sown, we see the extraordinary fecundity of a single seed encountering a bit of good soil; it gives fruit a hundred or sixty or thirty fold. Are these different yields due to chance or luck? Absolutely not, for it is in the human heart that the word is sown. Stones and thorns allude to the hardness of heart and the cares of the world that encumber it. If the seed remains on the surface, abandoned to the appetite of the birds of the sky, it is because we do not let it enter our beings. Therefore, if the word is not fruitful, it is due to the listeners’ poor dispositions. This urgent appeal to each one’s responsibility must be welcomed with immense hope.”
The biblical scholar, Eugene Maly exhorts us to believe and be more open to God’s word: “God’s word is limited only by the closed ear and hardened heart. If we are not open to the word, how will it have its effect? It must find a resting place within us so that it can do its work. If we are like the hardened footpath, or the patch of rock, or the unfriendly briers, the word remains a stranger to us. To help us be more open to God’s word we should reflect on its power. If we do not really believe in the word’s power, then it is powerless to help us. But if we believe, we will become, with increasing fruitfulness, the good soil. We will have the conviction and the confidence of Jesus himself.”
by Dr. Eleanor Ronquillo
(Member: ASSOCIATION OF PAULINE COOPERATORS – Friends of the Divine Master, Antipolo Unit, Philippines)
Here is the story of three people:
1. A mother of a young boy, an only son, served her parish well. Then her young son got sick and died of dengue fever. She transferred to the Born Again Movement.
2. A father of four young children, two boys and two girls, had been a devout Catholic, a humble servant. His eldest child, one of his daughters, suddenly died in a car accident. Then within a few months, his other daughter died of a lingering heart disease. He has remained steadfast, in fact more busy with his apostolate so that people admire his courage and great faith.
3. A fifty-year old man had several medical illnesses, many physical pains and fears. He often fought with neighbors and relatives. Then he began to study the Bible and claimed he had found God. Now, he goes about criticizing priests, scrutinizing the works of parish workers, largely becoming disgusted by the way people behave.
Three lives, three different levels of faith. Which seed fell on good ground and bore fruit? Which seed started to grow on rock but was scorched by the sun? Which seed grew among thistles and weeds ready to be choked by them?
Our lives are constantly challenged by weeds, thistles, rocks, the heat of the sun … Can we say we are founded on good ground? Such are the pains of life that some may reach their breaking point at which they break away. Others are strengthened in faith by their intense crises. Quite honestly, I am afraid. Like the plant that grows on good ground, I want to grow and bear fruit. But there are just times when strong forces of heavy rains, strong winds, intense heat, and being trampled upon might weaken the plant. Those are the times I need to cling, I need to hold on, I need to anchor, to be nurtured. Like the plant, we all need to be nurtured. And we must be nurtured in our faith in order to grow.
II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART
A. Are we thankful for the goodness and generosity of Jesus the Sower, who casts the seed of the Kingdom everywhere and brings the Good News to all? Do we truly believe in the inherent power of God’s Kingdom?
B. Do we listen to Jesus’ parables with a receptive heart? Do we invest time and energy to internalize the message of the Kingdom parables and translate it into our lives?
C. With eagerness and humility, do we endeavor to be the rich, welcoming soil that will make the seed of the Kingdom grow and bear abundant fruit to be shared with those who long for the blessings of God? When we are not receptive to grace, what do we do to surmount this spiritual resistance and difficulty?
III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD
(A prayer by Nerses Snorhali in Jesus, Fils unique du Pere in Sources chretiennes 203, Paris: Cerf, 1973, p. 133)
I hardened myself like a rock;
I became like the path;
the thorns of the world have choked me
and have made my soul unfruitful.
But, O Lord, Sower of good,
make the seedling of the Word grow in me
so I may yield fruit in one of these three:
Hundredfold, sixtyfold, or even thirtyfold.
IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD
The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.
“A sower went out to sow … Some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Mt 13:4,8)
V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION
A. ACTION PLAN: Pray that the seed of the Kingdom may find a rich soil to nourish and make it grow and be fruitful. Pray for Christian disciples-apostles who broadcast the seed of the word of God in today’s field of human concerns and affairs that they may be strengthen in their endeavors. Pray for those who will proclaim and preach the word of God in this Sunday’s liturgical assembly.
B. ACTION PLAN: That we may appreciate more deeply the dynamic energy of the seed of God’s Kingdom and the generous kindness of Jesus, the Sower of God’s Kingdom, and in view of a more meaningful Year of the Eucharist, make an effort to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration. Visit the PDDM WEB site (www.pddm.us) for the EUCHARISTIC ADORATION THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR (# 33): A Weekly Pastoral Tool for the Year of the Eucharist.
Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM
PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI
SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323