The Four Soils

Sunday July 12, 2020 The Fifteenth Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle A)

The tie in between today’s readings: The Anticipation of a New Creation

Psalm 65:10-14, Isaiah 55:10-11, Romans 8:18-23, Matthew 13:1-23

Our reading in Psalm 65:10-13 tells us about God’s abundant favor toward the earth and to man. The Lord is the one who sends the rain, sprouts the seeds, and blesses their growth. He is the reason for bountiful harvests and the multiplication of livestock. The Almighty has always provided for us in the past and His plans prosperity, peace, and hope for our future (Jeremiah 29:11). But it’s not always smooth sailing. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden the Lord also cursed the environment. Rains can come as hurricanes and floods. Droughts bring crop failures. Disease, famine, and death consistently follow. That is only what nature can do. Throw in our transgressions of war, pollution, and poverty and life is anything but secure and easy. But our reading in Isaiah 55:10-11 confirms that even in this sinned cursed earth God is still in control. His power works in the forces of nature and His word rules in the affairs of men. The Almighty always achieves His purposes and His plans for or happily ever after are always in view. Our gospel today, Matthew 13:1-23, ties the theme of nature and our disposition to God’s blessings in the familiar parable of the Sower. Please read it and apply it to your situation.

The Hard Path: Straight forward enough, it’s the person who wants nothing to do with the gospel as it’s proclaimed throughout the world. This is the individual who, while channel surfing, comes across a station like EWTN, groans, and moves on. With a heart toward God as hard as concrete, the message of the Father’s love bounces off him and as the Bible says, “the little that he has will be taken away.”

The Rocky Ground: This is the one who receives the gospel joyfully because he has unrealistic expectations of what the Lord will do for Him. “Come to Jesus and all of your problems will be solved.” He has been sold a bill of goods. No one ever got around to telling him about counting the cost of discipleship, picking up his cross, or sacrifices.  He goes to church with the idea of an easy life and heaven too. When things get hard and God disappoints, he disappears and the people in the pews scratch their heads saying, “I wonder what ever happened to…”

The Thorny Ground: This person has a faith of sorts. He thinks that church serves the purpose of getting him into heaven, but doesn’t take God’s promises and principles, too seriously. He’s not a fanatic, after all. He doubts that the Lord will meet his present needs, so he’s preoccupied with worries. He thinks that holy living will make him miss out on some good things in life, so he compromises. He is too busy to grow in the faith. His only concern is to do what he needs to do to not go to hell.  He goes through the motions of worship, but never bears fruit because his devotion to God is hardly more than lip service.

The Good Soil: I would guess that most people believe that they are in this category, yet, if we’re honest, there are so few of them. A person of good soil doesn’t just happen. He accepts the suffering of the plow because it’s the Farmer’s will. He lets the scripture fertilize his mind. He waits for the rains of grace and prayer to water him. Most of all, this person dies to himself so that God may live in Him and so he bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit in his life. You can see how rare a person like this really is.

The thing is that these four conditions in our gospel reading are not fixed. We can have a new creation of God in our lives! Jesus spoke in parables to hide the truths of His teachings from the indifferent. Let us pray that God’s grace will break through their hard hearts and cause them to understand His words so they would seek and find Him. Let us ask that the Lord will build us up in the soil of our faith over the rocky ground so that our roots will have what they need to face the trials of this world. Let us examine our lives for the thorns and have the courage to implore our Father for a weeding. Let us be vigilant to walk in the Spirit that we would not backslide into the sins that so easily hold us back from living for the Lord. We can grow into the soil that we want to be! Let us focus on the Kingdom to come and our God, who began His good work in us and will finish it when Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6). Then we will join the Apostle Paul as he writes in today’s epistle:

Romans 8:18-23 New International Version (NIV)

Present Suffering and Future Glory

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

The Lord is coming! May we be the fruit bearing wheat that He will bring into His barn (Matthew 3:12). Amen.

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