of Creighton University's Online Ministries
July 10th, 2011
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignation Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
The readings for our liturgy of this week invite us to a sense of fertility and fruitfulness. We of the earth are rained upon by God’s gracious showers of holy life. The Showerer and the Seeder are the same, providing the earth and our earthliness the assistance to grow from dirt-level to the heaven-heights.
We pray to receive grace as the crops drink in the nourishing rains. We bathe in God’s love as do flowers soak in the warmth of the sun. We pray to live generously the fruitful life of giving life, sustaining life, and caring for life in all its forms, from earliest beginnings to latest endings.
We have for our First Reading a poetic section from the final chapter of The Book of Consolation also known as Second Isaiah. This chapter opens with the famous verses about the invitation to “come to the water all you who are thirsty.” The fifteen chapters of this Book or section deal with God’s bringing Israel back to life within a new covenant. The infertility of their past infidelities are forgiven and something “new” will be brought forth.
The prophet pictures the faithful God as the One Who sends a relationship as the clouds send the rain. This faithful rain will give life to God’s people as do the rains give life to the crops. Fruitfulness of the fields was always a sign of God’s blessing. The prophet uses a familiar agricultural image to remind the people that God is the giver of all things and God’s work is the holiness of the people.
There is a soft hint here of the promise made by God at the time of Noah, that there would be no more flooding and no more turning away by God from God’s creation. In this poem, God is saying simply that God will never give up on the earth and the people, and all will return to the loving embrace of the Sender.
In the next several weeks we will be hearing parables. These are easy-to-remember stories which can have several interpretations. They are meant to catch the attention of the listeners and are invitations to the listeners to find their places in the stories.
Fortunately, Jesus gives a rather clear and pointed explanation of the parable after relating the parable itself. This takes the pressure off the homilist and perhaps this writer as well. The image is familiar to us. The person who sows the seed and the various types of soil which receive the seeds are presented simply. The soil produces according to its quality of depth.
Jesus has a very good interpretation of the parable to which I agree totally. The more important part of this Gospel’s parable is about where we find ourselves. It is too easy to say that we are the soil of the “path” or the “rocky ground” or the “thorny patch”. Is there no “rich soil” for some seed to find a rooting?
I taught poetry to second-year high school students, or at least it was attempted. Their usual response was, “Why doesn’t the guy just come right out and say it?” Why doesn’t Jesus come right out and say it? The “it” here is the mystery of the kingdom and there were those who listened for insights and head-knowing, but they were not letting “it” get close, inside and permanent.
Knowledge and insights do not save. Answers invite only more questions. Parables are for those who know beyond knowledge. They hear and see beyond senses. Tribulations, persecutions, worldly fears and the desires for riches are all parts of our human soil. The Word of God, Jesus, has come to identify the soil, improve it and assist its knowing and growing.
We are in the heart of Matthew’s semester-course on Who Jesus is and who does His coming make us. We are in the school of intimacy. The closer He comes to our part of the soil the more fruitful we become and He will not leave us to ourselves. By ourselves we will whither and default to our beaten-pathness. By ourselves we will be choked by our own greed and self-centered demands.
Fruitful living is how people live under the influence of the person of Jesus. As we reflected upon in last week's liturgy, relationships change the persons in the relationship. Usually the intimacy of the relationship brings about changes which are not immediately perceived by the relaters. Others see changes and the changes are usually defined as being more alive, more spirited, more who they have always wanted to be. Ideas don’t change us much or very deeply. The influence of the significant people in our lives changes us far beyond the power of thought. God so loved the world that God did not send an idea or a book. God rained down the grace within the Person of Jesus the Word who remains until the Good Earth remembers who it is. So God did come right out and say it!
What remains is our staying attentive not to Jesus as teacher or idea-giver, but to Jesus Who desires lovingly to bring God’s goodness out of our Good Soil.
“How happy they who dwell in your house! For ever they are praising your name.” Ps. 84
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