July 16, 2023
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
“To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.” Matthew 13:12–13
How is it that someone can look without seeing or hear without listening or understanding? This is only possible when one’s eyes and ears are working properly, but the mind is distracted, not attentive to what is seen or heard. For example, say you were listening to a book being read and suddenly you realized that even though you heard what was read, your mind was elsewhere and you had no idea what was spoken. This is a common experience for everyone from time to time.
This portion of the Gospel quoted above comes immediately after Jesus spoke the Parable of the Sower to the crowds from a boat. In that parable, seed fell on the path, on rocky ground, among thorns and in rich soil. Only the seed on the rich soil grew and produced good fruit. Therefore, Jesus’ teaching quoted above, as well as His parable spoken before it, teach that there were many who heard the Word of God and witnessed Jesus’ miracles but failed to allow His teachings and miracles to produce faith in their hearts.
This Gospel passage is especially important for those who have been Catholics for many years but have become stagnant in their faith. When someone goes to Mass every week, listens to the Gospel and shares in the Eucharist but fails to continually grow in holiness and understanding of the Mysteries of Heaven, then they will slowly lose even the little faith they have. They will become lukewarm Catholics who go through the motions but fail to produce the good fruit that comes from authentic faith.
When you look back at your life as a practicing Catholic, what do you see from year to year? Was there a time when you were strong in faith but have slowly closed your ears to the Gospel and have drifted away from a deep and prayerful interior engagement with our Lord? Or when you look back do you see that the Lord has continuously given you more and more, leading you to a life of true spiritual riches? Has the Gospel entered not only your ears, but also your mind and your understanding? Do you both see and perceive the action of God in your life and in the world around you? Are you actively engaged with the life of grace and find that you grow closer to God every day? Or, sadly, have you lost interest and zeal and now find yourself slowly drifting away from the fruitful practice of your faith?
Reflect, today, upon these important questions and strive to answer them honestly. If you do not see yourself growing in faith every year and becoming truly rich in the grace of God, then know that something needs to change. Stagnation and lukewarmness in the faith are not good. They lead to the slow loss of everything. As you reflect upon your own faith journey, recommit yourself to a zealous embrace of the Gospel so that your soul will be truly rich soil that continually produces an abundance of good fruit.
Lord, You desire that all people hear Your Word and see Your action in their lives. Please continue to pour forth Your grace into my life so that I will continually grow rich in Your mercy. I pray that my eyes and ears will be open to You more fully every day. Jesus, I trust in You.