May the Word Jesus sows in us Produce Fruit

Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday of Year A

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Imagine the day Jesus taught the Parable of the Sower. The people were accustomed to Jesus teaching in parables about the kingdom of God because Jesus gave most of his teaching about the kingdom in parables. They would automatically compare themselves to the characters in the parable and see whom in the parable they were like. Everyone knew that some seed always fails and that some seed produces a good crop. But what did Jesus mean by the Parable of the Sower?

Jesus was sowing seed when teaching about the kingdom of God. Some people took his message to heart and produced fruit. Others didn’t take his message to heart at all and produced no fruit, or they took his message to heart for a while and then gave up and so produced only a little fruit. It even happened to his disciples. Judas betrayed Jesus and then took his own life? We would expect better from someone who had been personally taught by Jesus for three years and had shared Jesus’ company. Not all of the seed that Jesus sowed bore fruit as it should have or as we would expect. The same could happen in a family. One family comes to mind, the Borromeo family in northern Italy. Carlo, whom we call Charles, St. Charles Borromeo, became a bishop, while his twin brother, Antonio, became the head of crime in northern Italy even hiring killers. Why do some produce fruit for the kingdom and others apparently not? Does it depends on whether we take Jesus and his message seriously?

What is this fruit anyhow? In Gal 5:22 Paul says the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the fruits of the Spirit that we learned for our Confirmation. Think of how beautiful our world would be if we all produced these fruits 100% all the time; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. We would have heaven on earth! Jesus had a plan for our world, that we would form a new society where these fruits would be practiced by everyone, a new society which would be a most beautiful society in which to live. That society has not yet come into existence because none of us is yet producing those fruits 100% all the time.

Jesus gives reasons why. Some people allow the devil to take the word from their heart. These are the people who receive the seed on the edge of the path. They hear the word of God but don’t believe its promises. They have heard the teaching of Jesus but don’t take it seriously. They are the people who forget the meaning of life, who live as if God doesn’t exist, people who forget that in this life we are only passing through. In Eph 1:18 we read a prayer which goes like this, “May the Father enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit…” If we forget what hope God’s call holds for us, or what rich glories God has promised us, then we will not produce fruit and we will be like the seed sown at the edge of the path. I have read of two neighbors who quarreled or did not speak for 30 years and now they are buried only thirty feet apart in the same cemetery. That is an example of forgetting the hope God's call holds for us and the glories he has promised the saints. In his first letter John wrote, “Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children, and that is what we are.” (1 John 3:1) If we don’t believe with all our hearts that we really are children of God since we were baptized then we will not produce the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. In South America it is apparently common for healings to take place during Mass. It is a rarity here. Is it because we don’t believe the promises of God? Is it because we are like seed sown on the edge of the path and allow the devil to carry off the word from our hearts?

The second group who do not produce 100% fruit are those who fall away when some trial comes or some persecution. These people are like the seed sown on patches of rock, they spring up straight away but have no root and give up following Jesus when it gets tough. When the culture of the world is different from the new society Jesus wants to found they are afraid to take their stand for Jesus and so no fruit is produced. The third group Jesus lists are those who allow the worries of the world or the lure of riches to choke his message in us. They have forgotten that hearses do not pull trailers after them with the deceased possessions! These people are like the seed that fell among thorns and the thorns that choked Jesus’ message are the worries of the world and the lure of riches

The fourth group Jesus lists are those who produce fruit from his message. They are the ones who received the seed in rich soil and yielded a harvest, now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty. They are the ones who allowed the eyes of their mind to be enlightened so that they could see what hope God’s call held for them, and what rich glories the saints are promised to inherit. May God the Father enlighten the eyes of our mind so that we can see what hope his call holds for us, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit, so that we may receive the Word of God in rich soil and yield a harvest, now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

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