By the Rev Msgr Harry Entwistle
Sunday 16 July, 2017
St Ninian’s & St Chad’s Church, Maylands
Australian grain farmers watch the amount of rainfall like hawks. They cannot control it, but it affects their crop yield.
The Gospel story of the sower portrays him as being inefficient. Why would a farmer scatter seed in places that he knows would not produce a crop? Seed costs money! So what does the parable mean?
We are familiar with the usual interpretation about the types of soil representing types of people, but Jesus tells this parable to his disciples as part of their preparation for their future ministry, and the likely responses to it.
The seed doesn’t germinate on the hard soil because the birds steal it before it germinates. The birds eat it because people are hard hearted and refuse to let it germinate. Seed can’t fully grow on rock, neither will it grow in those who want a quick spiritual fix but have no determined commitment. The grain smothered by weeds and thorns can’t survive, but the Gospel will not bear fruit in those Christians who play act at discipleship and do not let Jesus be the priority in their lives.
The point Jesus is making is not so much seed and soil, but about the spiritual state of people the disciples will encounter. What they and we must do it preach God’s word and leave the rest into God’s hands.
The prophet Isaiah made the same point. We are the ones who sow the seed, but like the snow and the rain that comes down from above, it is God who brings the seed to life in those who are open to his word and prepared to let go of those things and people in their life which block or divert them from being obedient to God.
This is Jesus’ point. The willingness to say ‘Yes’ to God is a choice that everyone must make. God cannot force people to respond, just as he and we, cannot make people love us. What God promises is that the relationship he has with us can only deepen in those who make him the centre of their lives.
We who live in the developed Western world are noticing that there are an increasing number of people who have closed their hearts to God particularly those who come from Anglo-Celtic stock. God is no longer worshipped, the good of society no longer matters, but worship of the self and individualism is the predominant belief system. The consequence is that we are in danger of imploding.
If it were only the atheists who have created this culture of self-entitlement, it would be understandable, but sadly there are Catholic laity and clergy who look at this atheistic culture while still claiming to be Catholic, they want to embrace a lot of the atheistic culture. In order to try to live with this dilemma, they say the Catholic Church must ‘get with the times.’ They want shorter, slicker worship without too much mention of God and certainly very few demands. Action and noisy busyness replaces prayerful, reflective and holy worship. Social justice is considered more important than contemplation and adoration of God. The Gospel message and Catholic life principles are modified supposedly to make the faith more relevant so there is a growing gap between what the Church teaches as revealed by God and what Catholics practice.
Jesus’ message to us disciples was that despite resistance to God- centredness, they must not compromise on preaching what the Church believes to be the truth of what God has shown us. If disciples remain faithful, whatever the cost, there will be some who respond, embrace that truth and produce much fruit.
We in the Ordinariate have already come into the full unity of the Catholic Church, and having been invited to share this church building, that unity is now more visible than ever. What now have a God-given opportunity to show the wider Church and the world what real Church unity looks like. Being united yet maintaining our distinctiveness does not mean we are simply lodgers in another parish’s church. It means that we are co-workers in proclaiming the same Catholic faith with two liturgical expressions of our shared faith.
For this we thank God, and pray that his mane may be glorified and his will done.