Fifteenth Sunday of the Year Isaiah 55: 10-11; Romans 8: 18-23; Matthew 13: 1-9
“I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us. The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons and daughters. We too, who possess the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.”
Saint Paul was no stranger to suffering. Within his own ministry he had experienced rejection and isolation, and had come to terms with his own weakness and frailty. In all of this, an unshakeable hope grounded his faith in the Lord. The strength of that hope was to be found not in himself, but in his Lord.
At a time when the whole world has been confronted with its own frailty, and is desperately seeking for signs of hope, we can learn much from Saint Paul. In his own life and ministry, the strife and disintegration of the church in Corinth, a community that he had founded, must have brought his confidence to its lowest ebb. Speaking from that experience he wrote as follows.
“Therefore I shall be happy to make my weakness my special boast, so that the power of Christ may stay over me. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 10.
The Book of Isaiah, reaching from the depths of Israel’s destruction, rose to the heights of a new, and, as yet, unexperienced ground for hope.
“As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth, 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 simplicity of the image, rain that gives growth to the earth, conceals a truth too easily forgotten. Our labours, both heroic and futile, depend for their success on the presence of the Lord He alone must be our life and our strength. Without him our hopes for the future have no sure foundation.
The same truth is at the heart of the familiar parable of the sower going out to sow. The circumstances of our lives might be likened to the different soils that the sower encountered. Humility, the precursor of repentance, enables us to discern within ourselves the soil that is good, the shallowness of pride and vanity, and sin’s rocky resistance. As the farmer prepares for spring, feeding, clearing and building up the soil, so repentance prepares our lives for the Lord.
Jesus is the sower, and, like the seed that is sown, his presence alone is the life that yields a rich harvest in our lives.