|7/9/2014 8:00:00 AM|
The Kingdom of God is Like...
Sunday, July 13, 2014
|Mary Jo Tully|
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 13:1-23 or 13:1-9
Matthew 13 is the beginning of the largest collection of kingdom parables that Jesus told. Again and again, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is like…” and then he would tell a story. The first of these parables is the Parable of the Sower.
Even those of us who have always lived in an urban environment can picture the seed in today’s Gospel being caught by the wind. We can imagine it landing on a pathway and being trodden into the ground or falling on stony ground with no earth to keep it from being scorched. We also see the seeds that land on good ground and yield fruit.
The parables are stories that catch our imagination and are open to a variety of interpretations. While Jesus tells us that the seed is the word of God, he does not tell us that the Sower is God. Perhaps we are the sower entrusted with the Word and called to evangelize. Perhaps we are the ones in whom the seed is planted.
The Jewish people were familiar with the harvest image. Traditionally it was an image of the final times. Now, though, Jesus is not simply proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom. He is telling his listeners that it will be fulfilled only through a slow and difficult process of growth.
Parables have a dimension beyond their literal interpretation and even beyond the multi-layered meanings found in ordinary tales. It is meaning provided by the context of the Church and the believing posture of those who hear them. Through the years, the Church has developed a wider interpretation of this particular parable. The four different soils became descriptions of different types of conversion. The sowing became less important and the manner in which the seed was received was more important. The parable focuses on the hearers.
Sometimes people do not understand the Word. Sometimes they initially hear it with delight and when things get difficult they walk away. Others leave when the Word doesn’t seem to solve their problems. But some of the seed falls on good ground. The Gospel calls us to choose to prepare ourselves to be good soil for the Word of God that comes to us.
Part of the hope with which we live is instilled by our active participation in creating the future, by making life better today. The Kingdom which is promised and for which the Church prays is created by the prayers and service of people alive today. The Lord works with and through his people. He asks us to be involved in the coming-to-be of a faith community that will encompass all creation. Because we will be freed in all eternity, we act with the freedom of the children of God today. Because we will love totally in the Kingdom, we deal with one another lovingly today. Christ, in his redemptive activity, has inaugurated the Kingdom. We move toward its fulfillment with the realization that "Thy Kingdom Come" is a prayer that we speak to one another. The kingdom comes more swiftly and more certainly each time we respond with the knowledge that Christ is present here and now.
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