What are we allowing to take root in our lives?

By: By Jennifer Willems

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 10

Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65:10,11,12-13,14; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23

Before the winter wheat is planted in northwest Kansas, some parishes make it a tradition to invite a farm family to bring a container of seeds to church. Not only is God’s blessing sought for these seeds, which can be seen, but also for the seeds waiting to be planted on farms everywhere.

After Mass, it is not unusual for people to gather around the container and marvel at how plump and healthy the seeds look as they wish the family who brought them a good planting season. An abundant harvest is important not only for the family’s livelihood, but for the well-being of all the people who will be nourished by the wheat in its various forms.

If these seeds are precious to those who will plant and watch over them, how much more precious is the seed we hear about in today’s Gospel?
And how much more urgent is it that this particular seed be planted in “soil” that has been well prepared and then tended with the greatest care and love?

In the first reading, we are reminded that God’s word has power and will accomplish all that he has promised — and more. With such an assurance from our faithful God, who time and again saved the people of Israel when they went astray and called them to return to him, it can be tempting to sit back and think everything is under control. In the passage from Matthew’s Gospel, however, Jesus reminds us that we have some work to do, too, if the kingdom of God is to be made known.

In the parable of the sower it’s not the seed that’s the problem, but the ground on which it falls. If the seed doesn’t find fertile soil, it will never have a chance at life because there is nothing to support it.

The same is true with the word of God in our lives. Our hearts and minds must be ready to receive the word if it is going to take root and bear fruit.. If we don’t make the necessary preparations we run the risk of losing that which gives us hope and direction at the very times we need it most.

Catholics across the United States are being invited to till the soil of their hearts in the weeks to come in order to welcome the new translation of the Roman Missal when Advent begins. Speakers at the recent Diocesan Summer Institute emphasized that this is an opportunity to deepen our faith by deepening our understanding of the Mass and the biblical narrative that runs through it.

Father Douglas Martis, the keynote speaker for the day, told participants that even something as simple as the sign of the cross puts us in touch with every instance of the cross in Scripture, starting with the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. “Imagine all of those crosses in your life — not just the burdens you have to bear, but everything that symbolizes the passion, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord. All of that is contained in that single ritual expression of the sign of the cross,” he said.

There is so much more to learn and many more opportunities to do so. God’s word has power. Are we ready? If not, what are we allowing to take root in our lives?

JENNIFER WILLEMS is the assistant editor of The Catholic Post and coordinates the Living the Word column. Contact her at jwillems@cdop.org.

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