Homily: The Beauties of the Earth

The readings for this mid-summer Sunday reflect the beauties of the earth, its golden harvests, its astonishing Spring, its delicate birds, beasts, mountains, hills and plains. Infinite surprise for those whose eyes can see.

In the First Reading the Lord uses the ebb and flow of seasons to show how his sensitive love for the earth works.

Just as the rain and snow come to earth, he says, and return to the heavens when they have done their job of watering, making the lands fertile and fruitful, so too does God’s word. It comes to the world and does not return until it has moistened and nourished life in every single creature that will receive it.

St. Paul speaks of all creation groaning in labor pains even until now. Human beings too groan within themselves like seeds which break open and push their way through tough ground and then evolve into full trees that stretch up for Christ’s light.   Fr. John Foley, S. J The Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis U.

The parable of the sower is a story about the fruitfulness of the earth. It assures us that the harvest will come in spite of the many obstacles that stand in its way. In the end, the rocks and birds and trampling feet cannot nullify the fact that the seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

Paul talks about the salvation of the world, pointing out that the world itself will be freed from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Meanwhile, all creation groans and is in agony: we pollute the clear air and the fresh water; we drive plants and animals to extinction; we clear-cut forests and we strip-mine, leaving ugly scars in the land.

Our opening prayer today calls on us to reject what is contrary to the gospel. Isn’t it contrary to the “good news” to waste and destroy God’s creation? The Creator has greatly enriched the land. How dare we impoverish it.     (Gerald Darring The Center for Liturgy Sunday)

In another sense, parables both reveal and conceal the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Many of us, even though we hear the words of a parable, refuse to recognize the voice of divine wisdom calling us to conversion of heart and to healing.

Matthew transforms the meaning of the seed from the word which initiates life to the person called to life in the kingdom. Some persons hear the word without understanding its deeper meaning; some receive it, but fall away when tribulation comes; some hear it, but worldly anxiety and greed choke off the life it gives; some hear the word, understand it, and bear an extraordinary amount of fruit.

Jesus tells us the good news that the seeds of God’s kingdom have been abundantly sown everywhere in the world. Despite all the violence and despair that threaten us, we can live in expectation. God’s kingdom has already come, will continue to grow, and will ultimately triumph. Henry David Thoreau once said: “Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”

Because it, too, is a parable, the human-divine mystery of God’s kingdom itself means that we cannot grasp its meaning as we do the realities of this world. It is only in the humble attitude of prayer that we may receive the gift of faith’s understanding and conversion of heart.

Jesus warns us that even if we have heard his word, worldly anxiety or greed can destroy our Christian life. God’s Spirit will grant us perseverance in living so that God’s kingdom will flourish beyond measure.  (Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.)

Can such rich images apply to you and me? How good is your own soil?

God pours his grace into it always. Do you and I groan and yearn for the goodness of God, which He has already lavished upon us? Do we take time each day to let love in? Or do we listen on Sunday, perhaps with some interest, but then forget everything by Monday?

Jesus lists a number of things we might have to correct in order to accept the gifts he has ready for us. We might be shallow, shallow ground, he says. Or rocky soil. The weeds of our preoccupation with the things of the world might choke us. How discouraging. Well, must I pretend to be rich soil, even though I know my shallowness? No. I must only be fully myself and allow God to do the rest. The Indian poet Tagore once said:

“Be humble. Join in the revolving refreshment of all earthly things. Like the cloud that stands humbly in a corner of the sky.”

Just let God, like the morning, crown you with splendor. Open your leaves. Allow in the sun.   (Fr. John Foley, S. J.)




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