The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 12, 2020 Cycle A
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
 Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah describes God’s word as effective and fruitful in itself: “Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful […], my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will […]” (Is 55:10–11).

Today’s Gospel presents us with Jesus preaching to the crowds on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Having been in that very place, it is easy for me to imagine the scene. Jesus is speaking to the crowds. There are so many people that he has to teach from a boat. He is proclaiming the good news. As he speaks, he notices the different types of listeners.

Christ tells them the parable of the sower. The first reading is about the efficacy of God’s word, while the Gospel emphasizes our participation. God is the sower, who generously spreads seed on different types of soil. The seed has infinite possibilities but needs the right soil. Without it, the seed cannot be fruitful. God’s initiative is unable to produce fruit without human collaboration.

As the same seed falls on several types of soil, there are different ways of accepting the Word of God. The sower’s seed fell “on the path,” “on rocky ground,” “among thorns” and “on rich soil.”

I have been meditating this week about what it means to be “rich soil” and concluded that it is to have a heart thirsting for God, a heart searching for something greater, a heart looking for the essential.

To seek God is the most important activity of our lives: “It is time to seek the Lord,” as the prophet Hosea says (Hs 10:12). The seed produces fruit when it meets a heart that is seeking God, that is seeking true happiness. Today, Jesus asks us as he asked the apostles: “What are you seeking?” (Jn 1:38). What are we seeking in our lives? We must not leave church today without thinking about this question. We are either seeking God or provisional things. The search for God must be the primary determinant in our lives.

To be in search of God is the true moral position. If we are really seeking God in everything, we are moral and sin less often. Great desire makes us great.

The problem of our world is not that it is immoral. The problem of the dominant culture is that it undermines our desire for God. Everything conspires to quench the thirst for the eternal in the deepest dimensions of our hearts with small things, the satisfaction of small desires.

We need to increase our desire for God and we need to pray. Moments of pause and silence, when we can listen to the Word of God, are very important. It is essential for us to judge our lives and what is happening around us in the light that comes from God’s Word. Our prayer life should be genuine dialogue, with attentive listening to what God has to say to us. How different it would be if we began every day by praying the words of Psalm 63: “O God, you are my God. At dawn I search for you. My soul thirsts for you. My body longs for you in a dry, parched land where there is no water.”

The greatest example that we have of “rich soil” is Our Lady: “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” The Blessed Virgin received the Word in her heart and became abundantly fruitful, giving birth to the Savior of the World.

Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us pray for hearts that are rich soil, where the seed can produce abundant fruit.  Amen.