Tuesday, July 11, 2017

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

As Catholics we’re taught that we should read the Bible, but how many of us actually do?  The Bible, after all, is not what you would call an “easy read.”  The Bible, the collection of the Sacred Scriptures actually form an integral part of our faith tradition.  This importance was noted in the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Word of God:  Dei Verbum.  Here we are taught that both the Scriptures and our Apostolic Tradition flow “from the same divine wellspring,” and that both are needed for Church teaching.  Our readings this week remind us of the importance of the Scriptures…


Isaiah 55:10-11
Psalm 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14
Romans 8:18-23
Matthew 13:1-23

Our first reading 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 (our Bible).  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.

Final thoughts:
Scripture is an integral part of our lives as Christians.  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.

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