FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME-AIsaiah 55: 10-11
Romans 8: 18-23 Matthew 13: 1-9
Advertisers know that they must target a specific audience well if they are going to make a sale. The “one size fits all” approach in advertising just does not work. People need to feel personally addressed.
There are many audiences that advertising appeals to. I would like to point out two today: the “belongers” and the “achievers.”
For many people, it is important to feel that they belong, and so advertising targets that group. The fashion world does this all the time. Look at eyeglasses – plastic frames were “in,” and then wire-rims were “in,” and now plastic and wire are “in.” People want to fit in. They are the “belongers.”
Another group would be the “achievers.” Achievers are often very successful people. They don’t want to be like everybody else. They want to set the style. And so advertising might say to the achiever: “This is something that most people can’t afford – but you can! After all, you are not like everybody else!”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus demonstrates that different audiences will receive His Word in different ways. He delivers the same message – the same Word – but it will not be heard in the same ways.
Jesus tells a parable: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” And then Jesus adds, “Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
The Word of God – the seed – on what kind of soil does it fall in our lives?
Unlike the different personality types to which the advertising world seeks to appeal, we choose the kind of soil we offer for the seed of God’s Word to grow in – or not grow in. The condition of the soil is our response to God’s Word.
And how can we enrich this soil in our lives? How about using The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: regular prayer, study, generosity and evangelization – so that His Word can take root and flourish in our lives – making us even better disciples of Jesus Christ and helping us to become even better versions of ourselves.
There were two sisters, Lisa and Shelly. Both liked to swim. Lisa practiced all the time, and had just won a competition. Her dad was reading about this as he and Shelly were snacking in the kitchen.
He asked, “Shelly, don’t you want to do something like Lisa did?” Well, that involved a lot of practice and Shelly wasn’t into practice. She just enjoyed being in the pool.
So Shelly replied, “No, I really don’t want to do that, Dad. I’d rather just sit here and have cookies and milk with you.”
We can be tempted take that approach in our discipleship – just to sit back and admire the Christian life. Or we can commit ourselves to practicing our discipleship faithfully and fruitfully, day after day.
Jesus teaches us that we choose how we hear His Word. And with God’s grace, we can cultivate the soil that we are given so that it produces fruit “a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
What kind of soil are you offering the Lord right now? What kind would you like to offer Him? The truth of the matter is that rich soil can be ours for the asking.
There is a prayer at Mass right before we receive Holy Communion. The priest takes the Host and the Chalice and holds them up – the Body and Blood, the soul and divinity of Jesus Himself – and he says, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”
And we all respond, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
“But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
Lord, we ask you, please say that word.