“Can you tell me a little about yourself?” It’s a question many of us have had to answer… maybe during a job interview or when meeting someone for the first time. More often than not our answer to this question will start with talk of family, friends, where you grew up, where you went to school, where you worked. From the moment we are born we live our lives in the context of our environment. Put another way, the story of our lives is written within the stories of those around us. Their stories become our stories, and in turn define who we are. The same is true for the Church.
The Word for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Psalm 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14
Our first reading for this coming Sunday is from the master story teller of the Hebrew scriptures… Isaiah. In a short poetic stanza from the time near the end of the Exile from Deutero-Isaiah, the passage paints a picture of the rain and snow giving nourishment to the earth, which then produces nourishment for us. It then equates that nourishment to God’s word. Just as the rain brings life, so does the Word of God, through his prophets and thus through the scriptures. It depicts a God who’s very words can nourish our souls like the rain can nourish a parched earth. This idea is echoed in our Psalm, but takes it one step further by equating us as the seeds. Land in good soil with plenty of water, and we are a bountiful harvest.
Our Gospel from Matthew picks up this theme with the Parable of the Sower, where Jesus is facing a large crowed on the shore, gets into a boat and explains how seeds that fall on rich soil can produce in great abundance. This is actually the first parable in the Gospel of Matthew, and the disciples appear a little confused, so they ask Jesus, “why do you speak to them in Parables?” Jesus then explains why he is teaching this way (whit a reference to fulfilling a prophecy from Isaiah), and then goes on to explain the meaning of the parable. Jesus, schooled by the master story tellers of the Hebrew Scriptures, is a master storyteller himself, using simple, relatable stories to explain sometimes difficult theological concepts. Not only is this an important moment for the disciples, but we too, by putting ourselves into the story, gain an understanding of what Jesus is teaching.
Our second reading comes from our continued study of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Picking up a few passages from where we left off last week (living in the Spirit and not the flesh), Paul is acknowledging that there is suffering in our current state… not just because of Roman oppression, but also the suffering we face as part of our regular earthly existence. But Paul teaches us that whatever suffering we may face now, that we can look forward to that much more glory as children of God.
Scripture is an integral part of our lives as Christians. Scripture and Tradition are the two “pillars of the Church,” that which holds us up, and gives us support. One of the best analogies I’ve heard for the Bible is that it is, “the story of our relationship with God.” The story of God creating and getting to know us, and of us getting to know Him. How is it that we can know so much about our family history? Especially that history from the time before we were born? It comes from the stories of our older family members. My parents giving me their stories and the stories of their parents. Those stories, through my connections with these people, become my stories, adding depth and context to who I am… my own story. The same is true for scripture.. the Word of God… the water nourishing the earth… the seed falling on fertile soil. We are a “people of the book.” meant not only to learn from these stories, but to make them our own and pass them on.