Thursday, December 15, 2011

Homily: Fifteen Sunday of the Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily: Fifteen Sunday of the Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 55:10-11; Ps 65:10-14; Rom 8:18-23 and Matt 13:1-23

The power of the Word of God in our Lives

“Just as from the heavens and the rain and snow come down and do not return there  till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful… so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth….”

This prophecy of deutero-Isaiah puts to perspective not only the effectiveness and the transforming power of the word of God,but the fulfillments of his divine promises and covenant with us. It is a resounding affirmation of the power of God to forgive sins and to make his glory known in the lives of Israel, back from exile.

The people are reminded of God’s promises. The Word of God is like rain that falls to the ground to nurture a fruitful seed. Matthew 13 builds on this image the transforming power of the word of God in Prophet Isaiah. With the parable of the sower, Matthew stresses the danger of not accepting and living the word of God, especially by the followers of Jesus.

Allegorically, and like different soils in today’s gospel, there are many factors that can prevent us from hearing and putting the word of God into practice. Our nonchalant attitude or superficial approach to scriptures or Sunday lessons is one of theme. It is is like those seeds sown on the path way. Another factor could be lack of courage and fear of persecution. These are the seeds on the rocky grounds. Abuse of wealth, riches and position can also be another thorny factor that would prevents us from living the faith.  This takes place when we get distracted or overwhelmed with worldly and unnecessary secular anxieties.

The word of God is so important in our lives in whatever language it takes to communicate it. For Jesus, parable was okay. It was suitable for a simple, rural and agricultural people of his time, who were also familiar with Isaiah 6:9-10 which says,

“You shall indeed hear but not understand; you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their  hearts and be converted, and I heal them” ( Matt 13:13-15).

They also understood what Jesus meant by “some seed fell on the rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty fold” (Matt 13:8).  These “are the one who hears the word and understand it” (Matt 13:23).

This leaves us with a personal meditation on how as Christians we cherish the word of God in our faith journeys, which is so important.

Think of the huge place given to the Word of God in our liturgy or worship. We venerate it (cf Dei Verbum, 21). We form Bible classes in our communities. Christ is present in the Scriptures read during our formal worship. He is there with us when we study and reflect on the Bible as part of our daily lives. God speaks to us in the scriptures. He communicates his healing mercies and strengths to us through his words, which created the world in the first place (Ps 33:6 and creation story in Genesis).

Isaiah 40:8 we read, “Though the grass withers and the flower wilts, the word of God stands forever.” And in Psalm 119 verse 105 we sing, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.”  And for Prophet Jeremiah the word of God is like a fire. It is like a hammer shattering rock ( Jer 23:29).

The Letter to the Hebrews chapter 4:12, says,

“indeed , the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edge sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart”(Heb 4:12).

As St. Paul would put it, the word of God is at work effectively within us when we cultivate it in our hearts and allow it to produce results within our lives in our communities and in the way we relate, and even treat our neighbors (1 Thess 2:13), in our respective communities, homes, families, seminaries, factories and offices and all fellow travelers.

We pray at this worship for continuous disposition to be that 4th soil, who hears, understands, lives and experiences the power of the word of God in our lives, which enables us to  participate in the glorious freedom of the children of God ( Rom 8:18-23).