Homily (Reflection) for the Fifteenth Sunday of the Year (A) (12th July, 2020) on the Gospel

Is 55:10-11;
Ps 64:10-14 (R. Lk 8:8);
Rom 8:18-23;
Matt 13:1-23 or 1-9.
There is a story in Fr Tomi Thomas’ work about a nine year old boy who was asked by his mother what he had learnt in Sunday school. The boy said to his mother: “Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his engineers build a pontoon bridge, and all the people walked across safely. He used his walkie-talkie to radio headquarters and call in an air strike. They sent in bombers to blow up the bridge, and all the Israelites were saved.” “Now, Joey, is that REALLY what your teacher taught you?” his mother asked. “Well, no, Mom, but if I told it the way the teacher did, you’d never believe it!”[1]
Topic: Not ours but God’s.
Jesus tells us in the gospel according to John, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (Jn 6:63). And every word that comes from God is for a purpose that must be accomplished, cf. Is 55:11.
In today’s gospel, we see what happens when the word of God is preached. The purpose of the parable helps in the understanding of the message better lest it will look as if God does not want some people to repent. We read these words of Jesus,
…You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn – and I would heal them (Matt 13:14-15).
Jesus also said elsewhere, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word” (Jn 8:43).
Fellow ministers in the Lord’s vineyard, the boy, Joey, was preoccupied with whether what he learnt from Sunday school would be acceptable to his mother or not and not the message. We are called to preach God’s words and not ours. And God charges us thus, “…but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. Is not my word like fire, says the LORD, and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jer 23:28-29). God also warns, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deut 4:2, cf. Deut 12:32). And through prophet Hosea, He threatens, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hos 4:6). We must be courageous enough to do our part and leave the rest for the owner of the vineyard. Our effort as the ministers is to see that Christ, the Word of God is formed in all, cf. Gal 4:19.
There is another story in Father Gerard Fuller’s work entitled “We are to bear fruit, leaving to God the measure”. It is about how the Temple University in Philadelphia came to be. It all started through the effort of a little girl in that city who wanted to attend the Sunday school but couldn’t because all the classes were filled up. So she decided to build a larger church by saving pennies. Although she died before the actualization of her dream but an old red pocket book was found under her pillow in which were 57 pennies and a scrap of paper on which she wrote the reason why she was saving her pennies. That act raised $250,000 in 6 years and has metamorphosed into Baptist Temple, with its Good Samaritan Hospital, and the great Temple University with its thousands of students. All these are the fruits of those pennies saved by that little girl.[2]
And to you dearest child of God, receive the word of God “… as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you …” (1Thess 2:13). Always remember that he/she who hears God’s word and believes has eternal life and will not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life, cf. Jn 5:24. The humble and contrite in spirit, who tremble at God’s word are God’s special children, cf. Is 66:2. Jesus tells us,
…If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me (Jn 14:23-24).
Rebelling against the word of God brings death, cf. Num 27:12-14. Hence Christ tells us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death” (Jn 8:51).
We also read from today’s gospel,
To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them …. For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand (Matt 13:12-13, NLT).
We will continue to be Christ’s disciples if we keep his words, cf. Jn 8:31, cf. Jn 8:37.
Bible Reading: Num 27:12-14; Hos 4:1-11; Jer 23:23-40; Jn 6:60-71; 8:39-59.
Thought for today: How do you treat God’s word?
Let us pray: Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly and may we teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in our hearts to God – Amen (cf. Col 3:16).
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[1] Thomas, T. (2010). Spice up your homilies. Mumbai: St Pauls, p. 49.
[2] Fuller, G. (2010). Stories for all seasons. Mumbai: St Pauls, pp. 39-40.

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