Liturgy of the Sunday

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Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time


First Reading

Isaiah 55,10-11

For, as the rain and the snow come down from the sky and do not return before having watered the earth, fertilising it and making it germinate to provide seed for the sower and food to eat, so it is with the word that goes from my mouth: it will not return to me unfulfilled or before having carried out my good pleasure and having achieved what it was sent to do.

Psalmody

Psalm 64

Antiphon

We praise you, Lord, for kindness.

To you our praise is due
in Zion, O God.

To you we pay our vows,
you who hear our prayer.

To you all flesh will come
with its burden of sin.

Too heavy for us, our offences,
but you wipe them away.

Blessed is he whom you choose and call
to dwell in your courts.

We are filled with the blessings of your house,
of your holy temple.

You keep your pledge with wonders,
O God our saviour,

the hope of all the earth
and of far distant isles.

You uphold the mountains with your strength,
you are girded with power.

You still the roaring of the seas,
(the roaring of their waves)
and the tumult of the peoples.

The ends of the earth stand in awe
at the sight of your wonders.

The lands of sunrise and sunset
you fill with your joy.

You care for the earth, give it water,
you fill it with riches.

Your river in heaven brims over
to provide its grain.

And thus you provide for the earth;
You drench its furrows,

you level it, soften it with showers,
you bless its growth.

You crown the year with your goodness.
Abundance flows in your steps,
in the pastures of the wilderness it flows.

The hills are girded with joy,
the meadows covered with flocks,

the valleys are decked with wheat.
They shout for joy, yes, they sing.

Second Reading

Romans 8,18-23

In my estimation, all that we suffer in the present time is nothing in comparison with the glory which is destined to be disclosed for us, for the whole creation is waiting with eagerness for the children of God to be revealed. It was not for its own purposes that creation had frustration imposed on it, but for the purposes of him who imposed it- with the intention that the whole creation itself might be freed from its slavery to corruption and brought into the same glorious freedom as the children of God. We are well aware that the whole creation, until this time, has been groaning in labour pains. And not only that: we too, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we are groaning inside ourselves, waiting with eagerness for our bodies to be set free.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 13,1-23

That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the shore, and he told them many things in parables. He said, 'Listen, a sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up at once, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Anyone who has ears should listen!' Then the disciples went up to him and asked, 'Why do you talk to them in parables?' In answer, he said, 'Because to you is granted to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not granted. Anyone who has will be given more and will have more than enough; but anyone who has not will be deprived even of what he has. The reason I talk to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. So in their case what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah is being fulfilled: Listen and listen, but never understand! Look and look, but never perceive! This people's heart has grown coarse, their ears dulled, they have shut their eyes tight to avoid using their eyes to see, their ears to hear, their heart to understand, changing their ways and being healed by me. 'But blessed are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! In truth I tell you, many prophets and upright people longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it. 'So pay attention to the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the Evil One comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the seed sown on the edge of the path. The seed sown on patches of rock is someone who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But such a person has no root deep down and does not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, at once he falls away. The seed sown in thorns is someone who hears the word, but the worry of the world and the lure of riches choke the word and so it produces nothing. And the seed sown in rich soil is someone who hears the word and understands it; this is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

A crowd is surrounding Jesus and it is so large it forces him to get on a boat, maybe Peter's boat. He speaks at length to them from there. Matthew reports the first of the seven parables that make an entire section of his Gospel. It is the parable of the sower. Jesus begins saying that the sower goes out to sow. And he sows widely everywhere, even if a fourth of the seeds will bear fruit. Jesus makes us notice this. It is clearly a surprising generosity which does not care about being wasteful. And it is exactly the sower who must place his trust in those lands, even those that are more a road or a heap of thorns than a ploughed and welcoming soil. The sower hopes that even there the seed will take root.
This is a passage which makes us realize the urgency of the Gospel mission which Pope Francis proposes to us. Like Jesus wants the sower to "go out," the Pope calls the entire Church to go out and sow, to be generous in the sowing and to imitate Jesus who threw seeds in all the lands, even the most difficult ones, even those on the peripheries where the terrain seems most rocky, most resistant and discarded. For Jesus - who is "the" sower, example of every sowing--the whole ground is important: there is no part of that land that is not worthy of receiving the seed, which is not worthy of attention, no part must be discarded, not even the most distant. The urgency of the mission arises from the need that everyone has for the Gospel, knowing that other sowers scatter seeds of violence and conflict. In this Gospel passage there is a missionary urgency that challenges today's disciples. And us too.
And we can see it in the second part of the parable. The disciples, probably in the evening, after they had returned home, ask Jesus for the explanation of that surprising parable. There is a moment of intimacy between the disciples and Jesus: "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven," he tells them. And he explains how he told the crowds in the morning. Those words are also addressed to them. It is true that they too are called to be sowers: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." But they must first be listeners of that Word. The disciples, and we, are part of that land that the Lord sows with wide casts. And we also know those lands of which the parable speaks personally. Even our heart is sometimes hard as a road when we leave room for indifference; at other times it is habits that make the land fruitless as stones; and how many times do we let ourselves be overwhelmed by our worries that suffocate that seed that we also received and started to grow?
But the Lord goes out for us every day and continues to sow. Loyalty in listening makes us partakers of the good earth, the one that continues to bear fruit some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.