ISAIAH 55: 10 – 11
Thus says the Lord: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I intend, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 65: 9abcd, 9e – 10, 11 – 12, 13 (R.) Lk 8: 8a
R/. The seed that fell into good soil yielded a hundredfold.
You visit the earth, give it water;
You fill it with riches.
God’s ever-flowing river brims over
to prepare the grain. R/.
And thus you provide for the earth:
you drench its furrows;
you level it, soften it with showers;
you bless its growth. R/.
You crown they ear with your bounty.
Abundance flows in your pathways;
in pastures of the desert it flows. R/.
The hills are girded with joy.
The meadows clothed with flocks.
The valleys are decked with wheat.
They shout for joy; yes, they sing! R/.
“All creation is waiting for the revelation of the sons of God.”
ROMANS 8: 18 – 23
Brethren: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning with labour pains together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
The Word of the Lord.
The seed is the word of God, and the sower is Christ; all who find him will abide forever.
“A sower went out to sow.”
MATTHEW 13: 1 – 23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A Sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. “Hear then the parable of the sower. When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Growing Rich in Grace
July 16, 2023
“To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.” (Matthew 13:12–13)
How is it that someone can look without seeing or hear without listening or understanding? This is only possible when one’s eyes and ears are working properly, but the mind is distracted, not attentive to what is seen or heard. For example, say you were listening to a book being read and suddenly you realized that even though you heard what was read, your mind was elsewhere and you had no idea what was spoken. This is a common experience for everyone from time to time.
This portion of the Gospel quoted above comes immediately after Jesus spoke the Parable of the Sower to the crowds from a boat. In that parable, seed fell on the path, on rocky ground, among thorns and in rich soil. Only the seed on the rich soil grew and produced good fruit. Therefore, Jesus’ teaching quoted above, as well as His parable spoken before it, teach that there were many who heard the Word of God and witnessed Jesus’ miracles but failed to allow His teachings and miracles to produce faith in their hearts.
This Gospel passage is especially important for those who have been Catholics for many years but have become stagnant in their faith. When someone goes to Mass every week, listens to the Gospel and shares in the Eucharist but fails to continually grow in holiness and understanding of the Mysteries of Heaven, then they will slowly lose even the little faith they have. They will become lukewarm Catholics who go through the motions but fail to produce the good fruit that comes from authentic faith.
When you look back at your life as a practicing Catholic, what do you see from year to year? Was there a time when you were strong in faith but have slowly closed your ears to the Gospel and have drifted away from a deep and prayerful interior engagement with our Lord? Or when you look back do you see that the Lord has continuously given you more and more, leading you to a life of true spiritual riches? Has the Gospel entered not only your ears, but also your mind and your understanding? Do you both see and perceive the action of God in your life and in the world around you? Are you actively engaged with the life of grace and find that you grow closer to God every day? Or, sadly, have you lost interest and zeal and now find yourself slowly drifting away from the fruitful practice of your faith?
Reflect, today, upon these important questions and strive to answer them honestly. If you do not see yourself growing in faith every year and becoming truly rich in the grace of God, then know that something needs to change. Stagnation and lukewarmness in the faith are not good. They lead to the slow loss of everything. As you reflect upon your own faith journey, recommit yourself to a zealous embrace of the Gospel so that your soul will be truly rich soil that continually produces an abundance of good fruit.
Lord, You desire that all people hear Your Word and see Your action in their lives. Please continue to pour forth Your grace into my life so that I will continually grow rich in Your mercy. I pray that my eyes and ears will be open to You more fully every day. Jesus, I trust in You.