15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 55:10-11; Rm 8:8-23; Matthew 13:1-23
Jesus tells us that the seed in this parable is the Word of God and you and our hearts are the soil. In this parable, Jesus identifies 4 types of hearts. That's what I want to look at today in this passage. The Shallow Heart, The Stony Heart, The Strangled Heart and The Surrendered Heart.
- The Shallow Heart
The seed that fell on the path, and the birds of the air scooped them up. Birds of the air, well there are different meanings attributed to this expression. There is The Shallow Heart. This is the heart which is constantly distracted. It has too many interests. There is no focus and a lack of vision. This is the heart that has enthusiasm without commitment. This is the heart that is pleasantly pleased with the prospect which the seed brings but makes no promise.
That's what Jesus meant by The Shallow Heart. It's the soil of the soul and of the heart that is so shallow the seed really doesn't take root but is immediately eaten by the birds of the air in the light of every day living and the regular trials and tribulations of being faith. It's hijacked and gone so quickly.
- The Stony Heart
Secondly there is The Stony Heart. This is the hardened heart. It can be packed and hardened by any number of things. Broken relationship, old wounds, dried out spirit or flagrant rebellion, one that has said no to God. No one or nothing is getting in. This is the wounded, bitter heart, totally surrendered to the world and anything NOT of God. In the Stony Heart, the seed of God's Word gets gobbled up by the desires of world before it even has a chance to even settle.
III. The Strangled Heart
And that brings us to The Strangled Heart. This is the heart that is filled with faith. It springs up and grows and even has deep roots. Unfortunately it is trying to grow where it always grew and it's distracted and subdued and defeated by the stuff and worries of the world. And there is a lot to be distracted by.
We have more choices in our lives than at any other time in history. And instead of down sizing, the list just keeps getting bigger and bigger. A trip to the grocery store and there's about 100 breakfast cereals to choose from, 200 kinds of soup, 50 to 100 blends of coffee, you get the idea.
Here, where we are blessed with so much, those choices often become a major distraction. There are so many things we want to do or see or try or experience. We want to enjoy life a little more before we make a serious commitment. And the minute that thought pops into our head, the thorns and weeds start to choke and take over.
That's The Strangled Heart.
- The Surrendered Heart
But then there's The Surrendered Heart. This is the Hopeful and Joyful heart. This is the heart that is most like the heart of God. You see, the sower in this passage is rather scandalous. When I was farming, you were careful with your seed. It was expensive. You only used the best and you only planted it in the best soil. You didn't just go throwing seed everywhere like this guy did. How wasteful. And maybe that's part of the point.
Sure this passage is about the soil of our hearts and the timber of our souls. But it's also about an extravagant God who blesses us beyond measure. An extravagant God who continues to scatter the best seed, His Word, to a world where there are still Stony Hearts, Shallow Hearts and Strangled Hearts. It was a shock and a scandal and still is, to those who think they have the inside track to heaven. Our God is truly and extravagant God who blesses us beyond all measure despite the fact that we don't deserve any of those blessings.
But we rejoice in the fact that we have and extravagant God who sows the seed of his love in places that may not, and probably won't ever take root and produce fruit. But remember, we believe in a God of miracles and sometimes that's exactly what happens. The seed does take root. It isn't gobbled up, dried out or strangled.
Instead, it takes root, blooms and prospers. And when that happens, God rejoices and uses that seed as an example of just how extravagant God's grace truly is. God's grace, can change the stony, shallow, strangled heart into the Surrendered Heart. This is the heart that makes a difference.
- Dr. Keith Wagner, of St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Sidney, Ohio tells the story of a small boy in Florida some years ago. It seems he heard that the Russians were our enemies. He began to wonder about the Russian children, finding it hard to believe that they were his enemies. He wrote a short note: "Dear comrade in Russia. I am seven years old and I believe that we can live in peace. I want to be your friend, not your enemy. Will you become my friend and write to me?"
He closed the letter, "Love and Peace" and signed his name. He then neatly folded the note, put it into an empty bottle, and threw it into an inland lake near his home. Several days later, the bottle and note were retrieved on a nearby beach. A story about the note appeared in a local newspaper and the media picked it up nationwide. A group of people from New Hampshire who were taking children to the Soviet Union as ambassadors of peace, read the article, contacted the boy and his family. They invited them to accompany the group to Russia. So, the little boy and his father traveled to Russia as peacemakers.
One little boy made a difference. He planted his seed and it bore much fruit.
And it doesn't take much if the soil is the soil of The Surrendered Heart.
We serve an extravagant God. The Son of God is the, the seed is not only the Word of God, but His grace and the offer of forgiveness which is given to each of us. The Sower continues to sow. The question for us is: How does your garden grow? Which heart do you possess. The Stony Heart, The Shallow Heart, The Strangled Heart or the Surrendered Heart?
Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza
Guardian Angels Church