Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday, A14 Jul 2017, by Sermons in
A priest friend told me how he visited a particular Country and was given the privilege to preach the gospel in one of the Masses he concelebrated. He preached for about twenty minutes, and at the end, he was told he preached for too long. He was told before the Mass not to preach for more than seven minutes; he wondered.
We may take that as one extreme, while the other extreme is to preach a very long sermon. Whichever way, the most important thing is to recognize the power behind the word of God. Describing the power of his own word, God says; As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.
The word of God is God (Jn.1:1), and anyone who believes in God must believe in his word. God is alive, so also is his word. The Bible, therefore, is a living book, a book with life. It is a book because it can be destroyed like any other book, but it is different from other books because its power cannot be destroyed. History books can be destroyed and rendered useless by new archaeological discoveries, just as science books can also be rendered irrelevant by recent or current discoveries. But God’s word cannot be updated; it rather creates, it brings things into being as at the beginning of creation; let there be light, and there was light.
God did not say that the bible is like the rain and the snow that does not return empty, but he rather says that his words do not return empty. This is not an attempt to disregard the Bible, far from it. The bible must be respected because it is God’s word in ink and paper; the ink and paper are made holy by the power of God’s word that rests on it. That is how it is with us; when the word of God rests on you or dwells in you, you are empowered. The word of God is alive, it is more than a book, and therefore it is not everybody that carries the bible that carries the power of the word.
I had fraternal arguments with a brother who prided in carrying the bible everywhere he goes. I did not discourage him because it is good, but I made him know that carrying the bible in hand without carrying its power is useless. That is exactly what Jesus wants us to understand in the parable of the sower.
As Jesus taught the people by the lakeside, he told them a parable, a very familiar parable known as the parable of the sower. He asked the people to imagine a sower going out to sow, and as he sowed, the seeds fell on different soils: some fell on the edge of the path, and the birds ate them up. Some others fell on the rock patches where they found little soil; though they sprang up, they died because they lacked a good depth. Some others fell on thorns and were choked, while others fell on good soil and produced their crop.
Though this is a parable or an imagination, the Lord talks about the reception of the power of the word God. The seed is the word of God, while the different soils represent different hearts. Some people hold the bible but do not understand the word’s power; they are like the seed that fell on the path’s edge. The word is taken away from them immediately because they lack understanding of it. Some others receive the word of God with great joy; they are lifted at that moment but give up so easily when their faith is challenged. They question the word of God when trials come their way; they are like the seed that fell on the patches of rock and dies off for lack of depth. Again, some others welcome the word of God but allow the worries and lure of riches to choke the word in them and produce nothing. They are like the seed that fell on thorns. Then, some receive the word and stand by its power, in good and in bad times. They hold onto the power and not onto a book. They believe that every promise of God will come to pass, that the word of God, like the rain and the snow, will not return without doing what it was sent to do. These are the seeds that fell on rich soil.
Every Christian heart is to be a rich soil upon which the power of the word of God rests. The manifestation of the power of the word of God in our lives depends on the root it takes in us; we must not let the power go. We must not let the birds take the word nor allow it to be choked in us. God’s word is the rule of life, it is the sword of the Spirit, and it is sharper than any double-edged sword. The Centurion in the gospel of Matthew 8:8 recognized this power and said to Jesus; Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
As we especially celebrate the power of the word of God today, let us allow it to create us anew and make us strong in God. To heal every pain and doubt in us through Christ our Lord. Amen!