The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]
Isaiah 55:10-11 + Romans 8:18-23 + Matthew 13:1-23
July 16, 2017
“‘And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.’”
Humility is the foundation of the spiritual life. Because of this foundation, the Lord God can dwell more fully within us. In today’s Gospel parable, “A sower went out to sow.” Now either this sower is foolish, or he knows something that we don’t know. If you were driving down a paved road, and came up behind a farmer driving his tractor and drill, dropping seed for miles onto the asphalt, you’d be concerned for him. Doesn’t he know he’s wasting his time, energy, and money, in addition to probably ruining his drill?
But the sower in Jesus’ parable acts in a similar way: “…as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.” Later on in the same chapter of Matthew, Jesus explains “the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path[,] is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.”
This is the first of four illustrations that Jesus paints in today’s parable. The first three illustrations are pictures of the sower laboring in vain, because of the path, rocky ground, and thorns. Only the fourth illustration describes seed falling on rich soil, producing fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
The first three illustrations show you three things that you must avoid in your spiritual life, in order to have a soul that’s rich soil for the bearing of spiritual fruit. The first illustrates ignorance: that is, not understanding what the Word of God tells us.
To grow in humility requires knowledge of God, and self-knowledge. Knowledge of God is simple, because God is simple. God is Love. But self-knowledge is more complicated. Self-knowledge has two parts: knowledge of myself as a fallen person, who has stumbled and fallen into the filth of sin; and knowledge of myself as someone loved by God, who has picked me up, washed me in the Blood of the Lamb, and raised me to the dignity of His own child.
These three forms of knowledge, then—knowledge of God, knowledge of myself as fallen, and knowledge of myself as raised by God—are like three legs of a stool on which I sit. Without any one of these three, I will fall to the ground.
Humility is the foundation of the spiritual life. Humility will grow inside of you as you rest more in the knowledge of who you are, who God is, and who God wants you always to be. Here’s a concrete example of how to let this soil of humility become richer.
Each night before going to sleep, make sure to spend at least three minutes in prayer. Divide this time in prayer into three equal parts. During the first third, make an examination of conscience concerning the day that’s just ended. During the middle third, express sorrow to God for failing to act as His beloved child. During the last third, give thanks to God for the love, mercy, pardon and peace that is always, and every day, offered to you by Christ Jesus.