Homily – 15th Sunday Ordinary Time – 16th July 2023
One observation one can make when reading the Gospels is how close a parallel there so frequently is between the teaching of the Gospel and the most basic principles of common sense, emotional and mental health.
Just the simple fact that, emotionally at least, each one of us lives in the world that we build for ourselves, that ultimately no one can make us feel anyway at all, not happy, not sad, not satisfied, not frustrated. We are, each of us, ultimately, inescapably responsible for the course of our own lives and the emotional flavour of those lives.
The Gospel reading this weekend is probably one of the clearest instances of that message in all of scripture. The action of God, the spreading of the seed, was of equal force in each case described. The one thing that made the difference between success or failure from place to place, or from person to person, was the openness, the willingness of the one that received the seed, the word.
That is a very simple message really. There is nothing, no system, no person, no thing, that will remove the personal challenge of growth and present us with satisfaction as a finished product, all wrapped up and ready to enjoy.
Here are a few things that nobody packages. Things which demand a personal involvement in their own creative processes:
Morality. No on can really teach morality to anyone else. We can and must offer an understanding of the difference between right and wrong in any number of situations. But if that is ever to become something more than simply a list of dos and don’ts, a fundamental goodness must be created and nurtured in each individual.
A sense of purpose. There is no one who can convince any of us that our individual lives are worthwhile, if we are unwilling to create that purpose ourselves.
A sense of identity. It is almost fashionable to spend a lot of time and energy agonising over the question ‘who am I? Who is the real me?’ There is only one answer to that, and it is the same for everyone. Who do you want to be? We are what we do.
Faith. Actually, a lot of things could fit in here. It is easy for us to believe that it is the role of the Church to provide us with faith in about the same way a grocer provides us with food. Faith doesn’t depend on the Church, or on its leaders, or its practices, or anything else. Faith depends on God’s word being taken into one’s life, taking root there. As the Gospel says, the seed has been sown, and it continues to be, everyday of our lives. There is no guarantee that it will grow. But there is the promise that if we want it to, it can.