Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time July 12, 2020
- On July 12, 2020
Today’s readings speak to us of God’s Word and transformation, the transformation that can be wrought in us by God’s word if we are open to it. This transformation is the goal of every Christian life. From St. Paul, we hear that all creation awaits with eager expectation this transformation, the revelation of the children of God. In what does this transformation consist?
The transformation consists in the word of God penetrating a human soul and deifying it, a deification that is expressed today in terms of being able then to be fruitful, to produce life. God is the creator and source of life, and thus to be lifegiving, is to be like God. And it is God’s will that we share in God’s work of giving life. Therefore, God looks out over the human race, to see if any are wise, if any seek God. And God speaks his word to the human race, calling out to them. God’s word is not an empty word. It has real power. Indeed, God’s word is so effective that one of the tests that is given to know if a particular spoken word comes from God is that what God says will come to pass, whereas if a word does not come to pass, then it was not from God. And in what is described today, those souls that receive God’s word are made capable of themselves being life giving.
All of this sounds mysterious, and yet it is nonetheless God’s intention that human beings understand. Perhaps then to help us relate to what God is saying, in today’s readings, the transformation which is spoken to us is given in allegories of the natural world, things that can be seen and observed here on earth. So, God’s transformation is like the rain and snow which comes down from the sky and in watering the ground make it fertile and fruitful. In certain climates, the dramatic potential of water to transform the land is more readily seen than it is here in North Carolina. In parts of California for example, the dry season leaves the ground brown, completely bare of any vegetation. For all appearances, the ground is dead and lifeless. And yet, when the proper rains fall, the whole landscape can in short time come alive, covered with wildflowers, painting the land both with color and beauty. They are called superblooms for the dramatic abundance of life. It is even visible from space. Where did this life come from? In studying this phenomenon, it is understood now that the apparently lifeless ground was not so in reality. Hidden within it always was the potential for life, the seeds of what could be. It merely awaited the proper circumstances to flourish. Likewise are we to understand the human soul. Even the most barren human being, however lifeless, hopeless, and listless he or she may seem, is capable of such a transformation, if it is open to and receives the word of God.
Or again, this transformation is like a sower casting seeds on the ground. In the proper soil and conditions within a few short days, the seeds sprout, transforming the ground until it is covered with plants much bigger than the seeds which were scattered. And when the plants mature, they will produce new seeds in far greater quantity than the amount that was initially scattered, 30, 60, or a hundred fold. Likewise so is the human soul. The word of God literally has germinating power within us. When we receive the word of God, meditate on it patiently and perseveringly, what grows out of us are the virtues, we become like the God from whom these words came. And these virtues are never enclosed in themselves, for there is nothing selfish in God. Rather they overflow in lifegiving abundance to others around us. This is the transformation God has in mind for us.
And do we have to cooperate with God for this to come about? Yes, that too is the message given in today’s Scriptures and is a warning for us. We can inhibit God’s action in our own lives. This is the lament spoken today by Jesus. Gross is the heart of this people, they have closed their eyes lest they see with their eyes. They have closed their ears, lest they hear with their ears. What great sadness is in the heart of Jesus when he encounters someone like that, for as he says, all he wants is for them to understand with their hearts and be converted, so that he can heal them.
For us as Christians, we recognize the corpus permixtum, the mixture of good and bad within each of us, the combination of openness to God as well as resistance to the word. And thus we strive with time and effort to make ourselves more good soil, internalizing the word of God, so that Satan cannot easily take it away from us, to strengthen our resolve and prepare ourselves ahead of time for trials, so that we do not fall away amid tribulation or persecution, to be very wary of and avoid as much as we can entanglements with the world and material things, so that attachment to passing things cannot choke away the life of God in us. Little by little we continue to work the soil of our life, until we can welcome with joy the transformation that God brings about increasingly in us. And when we reach that end which God intends for us, we will be set free from slavery to corruption, and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
In this Eucharist, we pray for the grace increasingly to have open eyes and open ears toward the word of God. And may our hearts burn for what God has prepared for us. Amen.
Fr. Elias Correa-Torres, O.S.B.