The Kingdom will triumph
16 July 2023 15th Sunday Year A
Listen to reflection
The Kingdom is a central theme of Matthew’s gospel. Today we begin a series of readings from Ch 13 in that gospel over three Sundays concerning Jesus’ teaching, in parables, about the coming of the Kingdom.
In preceding chapters, Matthew has depicted Jesus as a great teacher and miracle worker. But Matthew now portrays the growing tension between Jesus and the leaders of Israel.
Hostility is mounting, People are turning against Jesus. Jesus himself explains, “they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.”
The parable of the sower in today’s gospel focuses on the sowing of seed, and the very different outcomes depending on where the seed lands, seeds perishing in poor soil but abundantly fruitful when falling on good ground. This serves as an analogy for the flourishing of the Kingdom. As with all of Jesus’ parables, the parable turns our expectations upside down!
Jesus describes the sowing of seed according to the agricultural method of his day, a method very different from the refined industrial methods of our day. The seed is sown liberally, by hand, over the ground, falling on good soil but also on poor, be it among thorns or bushes or on rocky ground.
Given that many of the seeds land in inhospitable places, many come to nothing. But the seed that falls on good soil is astonishingly, indeed fantastically, fruitful, yielding thirty or sixty or even a hundred-fold.
What then is the message? The seed is the Word, the good news of the coming of the Kingdom. The Word is proclaimed widely and liberally, offered for all to hear. Jesus explains why it doesn’t always take root and grow. He teaches that it will not always find receptive ears and responsive hearts in which to flourish and bear fruit. But when it is received and nurtured, it grows and bears fruit superabundantly. In other words, no matter the resistance or hostility, the Kingdom will not fail. God’s Word will ultimately prevail.
In this way Jesus encourages us not to lose hope, and not to be discouraged or to lose faith in our mission to spread the Word. Our teaching, preaching, and daily living of the gospel in love of God and neighbour may well encounter opposition, even persecution. The Good News will be received by some and ignored or rejected or reviled by others. But in Jesus the Kingdom has come, its growth is utterly assured. It will not fail; nothing will prevail against it.
Jesus reminds us of the blessing that we have been given: “Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.” Let us pray, as individuals and as a Church as we progress on the synodal journey, to see ever more clearly, to listen ever more humbly, and to grow in our understanding of the Kingdom we are all called to help build.
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