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Pastor's Letter 20200712 - 12 July 2020 Sowing the Word of God

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July 12th, 2020

15th Sunday, Ordinary Time

A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “Sowing the Word of God”


Scripture Note

 On the face of it, it might seem from Today’s Gospel that Jesus taught in parables in order to keep His hearers from understanding (Matthew 13:1-23.)  But such a purpose is completely alien to the character of Jesus.  He used parables as an effective teaching tool, and those who were open to Him received more.  Those who closed their minds against Him received less.  The fault lay not with Jesus but with the receiver! 

The early Church adapted the parables to the new situation in which they found themselves.  (The shorter form—vs 1-9—is most likely the original form of the parable.  The explanation—vs 10-23—reflects the missionary experience of the early Church.  It accounts for the relative failure of the message of Jesus.)  Shallow minds, harden hearts, worldly preoccupations and persecutions are most likely the obstacles that frustrated the growth of faith, even to our present day. 

Our First Reading suggests the rain always produces positive results—somewhere the earth eventually responds and becomes fruitful—so God persists with His Word until He gets a response (Isaiah 55:10-11.) 

  Jesus Taught in Parables

Aside from John’s Gospel, which contains none, the Synoptic Gospels  (Mark, Matthew and Luke,) are replete with parables.  This seems to have been Jesus’ favorite method of teaching.  Among the rabbis of Jesus’ day,  there was apparently an attitude almost of reverence towards the parable.  So, when Jesus adopted this method, He was following an accepted tradition. 

To better understand the significance of “the parable,” consider this explanation:

“Once there was a famous rabbi who loved to illustrate a truth by means of a story.  One day his student asked him why he adopted this approach.  He replied: “There was a time when Truth went around ‘naked and unadorned.’   People shied away from him and gave him no welcome.  So Truth wandered through the land, rebuffed and unwanted. 

“One day, very disconsolate, he met Story, strolling along, happily dressed in a multi-colored robe.  He asked Truth, ‘Why are you so sad?’  Truth replied, ‘I’m so old and ugly, everybody avoids me.’ ‘Nonsense!’ said Story.  ‘That is not why people avoid you.  Here, borrow my robe and see what happens.’

“So Truth donned Story’s multi-colored robe, only to find that everywhere he went, people welcomed him.”

The Rabbi concluded, “The fact is, people are unable to face the naked Truth.  They much prefer the Truth ‘in disguise.’ ”

Sometimes the truth can be so painful that we are not able to face it “straight.”  We have to “dress it up;” we have to “adorn it.”  (...A story makes a bitter truth more palatable.)

A story has another great advantage.  Just as the light from a small candle can help a searcher find a gold coin or a priceless pearl, so too a short parable can contain a great truth and enable us to penetrate the heart of that truth. 

So, Jesus is saying to us, in the “Parable of the Sower,” that the Word of God is to the human heart what a seed is to the earth.  Just as soil is barren without seed, so our lives are barren without the Word of God—a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life. 

The Church has always venerated the Sacred Scriptures as it venerated the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.  In Holy Communion we are offered, from one table, the Word of God and the very Essence of Christ. 

Through His Word, God is continually calling us to a better and more fruitful life.  Happy those who make the voice of God the most important one in their lives!  God doesn’t speak to us like a “dictator” to his subjects.  He speaks to us like a Father does to His children, with gentility, as a weak, defenseless seed falling into the soil.  Therefore, we should be wary of anyone who pontificates to have heard from “God on high.”  He communicates to us quietly, through the Holy Spirit, alive, and within each and every one of us. In so doing, His Word is more effective than the word of the most powerful dictator—it can change people’s hearts. 

But God doesn’t "speak to us" only through quiet meditation with the Holy Spirit, nor solely in the Words of Sacred Scripture.  He also speaks to us through the events of our lives.  We may better appreciate the significance of those events if we are studied in Scripture, as we may find ways to interpret what we experience.  In any event, we will be judged by the efforts we make, not solely in our results.   

The Importance of The Word

When we were young, our world consisted in listening to countless “words” of teaching from our parents and educators.  So many have been dropped into the “soil of our minds and hearts” during the “springtime” of our lives!  We heard words of greeting; of welcome; of encouragement; of affirmation; of advice; of guidance; of correction; of chastisement; of warning; of caution; of comfort; and of consolation.  At the time, we may not have appreciated the significance of those words, but we needed to hear them.  Only God knows how many of those words took root in our lives.  But one thing is clear:  our lives would be immeasurably poorer without the “sowing” of all those words. 

As adults we still need the “sowing of the Word.”  One can only pity those people who have nothing but words of criticism and blame; or those who have to survive on a diet of silence.  But happy are those who hear the words of encouragement, love and peace! 

Human words, no matter how necessary, will never fully nourish us.  We need "God’s Words," to give us guidance in times of doubt;  reassurance in times of difficulty; comfort in times of sorrow; correction in times of foolishness; challenge in times of laziness and sloth; warning in times of danger; and hope in times of despair.  (For me many of the messages in Proverbs continually buoy my spirits when I face difficult times.  So many are time-honored maxims, which remain applicable to situations in our modern world.)

God’s Words are never negative.  They are Words spoken in love—as food nourishes the body, so the Word of God nourishes the mind, the heart and the Spirit.  God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit in the most hidden parts of our being. 

But many other voices are vying for our attention.  In fact, every day, we are subjected to a veritable “blizzard” of words.  We are bombarded by visual and aural stimuli from every quarter.  Our modern mass media has specially crafted skills to infiltrate our minds, with “pop-up ads;” “scrolling messages” underneath our videos; “breaking ‘stories’  with particular ‘impact’ ” during newscasts; and even static billboards along the roadway.  We are scarcely ever “out of reach” from the “tentacles” of information.  One might wonder how it is ever possible to discern God’s Word amidst all this clamor.  It only can occur if we can create a little bit of stillness and quietness within ourselves.  This is the realm in which peaceful meditation works.  I find the calming influence of the group “Liquid Mind” among my favorite background musical selections to aid me to find peaceful relaxation.  (Some might call it “space music,” but it suits me to a “T.”) Rather than a formal session of what has been called “Transcendental Meditation,” short periods of solemnity can be most beneficial. 

It’s not enough to simply remember the Word; we have to “do it.”  One of the ways to tell an imitation diamond from a natural gem is by means of how it refracts light.  In the case of many simulants, light passes straight through them, enabling a person to read newsprint through it.  In the case of a natural diamond, the light is reflected throughout the crystal, exiting back to our eyes, ablaze with refracted, prismatic color, or “fire.” 

With some people, the Word of God goes in and comes straight back out.  They are mere “hearers” of the Word.  But those who “keep the Word,” that is, those who act on it, are transformed….  Like a seed, germinating and sprouting from the ground, the Word of God, once dropped into the human heart, never dies.  It’s never too late to act on the Word of God.

May God Richly Bless You!


“A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.”

--Emily Dickenson--

Come to the Table.docx

Come to the Table.mp3

You may view a live stream of today's Readings, click here:  https://youtu.be/EO51lsAkReQ





Edited by Father Michael
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