26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Michael & Joseph discuss Sunday’s Gospel, Matthew 21:28-32.
Now that we’ve had our homiletics course, we’re preaching at various liturgies outside of Mass for practice, and we’re recording them and sharing them with our brother classmates for feedback. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to preach reflections in communion services in my parish assignment. This morning, I accepted our deacon director’s suggestion that if we felt comfortable, we try preaching a reflection without a manuscript. Here is a transcript of what I delivered from a rough outline:
Traditionally this week, Wednesday, Friday, and today – Saturday – are Ember Days, days of fasting in the Church. After the Exaltation of the Cross there are the fall days of fasting, the Fall Ember Days. And then traditionally, this weekend, in many places, especially where farming is a key part of life, there’s still a Mass of thanksgiving for the goodness, of the fruits of the harvest.
It’s in this time of year that a lot of the Church readings start to turn back to the idea of the richness of the harvest, of the earth – the return from those things that we sow and we hear today the idea of sowing.
We just heard the word “sow” nine times, between the first reading to the Corinthians – the letter to the Corinthians – and this this Gospel.
We actually heard this Gospel about five weeks ago at Sunday Mass, from Matthew, and today, again in this fall season, the church calls it from Luke and we hear it again in Luke’s words.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was a letter to, what one of our Scripture textbooks called, the “Las Vegas” of the early Christian world. It was a center of trade, a center of great wealth and lavish living, which also made it a center of difficulty of choosing between good and evil and a moral life, and that manifested itself quite a bit even in the the emergent Church in Corinth that Paul had planted the seeds of.
And so he wrote to them, multiple letters, encouraging them in faith, encouraging them to choose Christ and to choose a moral life. In this first reading, he speaks of what is sown looking like one thing, coming up looking different. He speaks of Adam, who chose – and led to death, and our original sin, and he speaks of Christ who rose, and opens the doors for us to new life.
Paul sows Christ, Paul sows new life, Paul sows that message that Christ, the ultimate sower, gave as a gift to his Church, to his apostles, and to us the faithful.
Jesus is the master sower, and in the Gospel, He reminds us of the different types of soil that we might encounter in the world, world that today we might even say looks a little bit like that world of Corinth – a world of great wealth, a world of abundance, and a world where that can sometimes make it difficult to choose between the good and the evil, even in our own lives. Corinth, looking a little bit, perhaps, like today’s culture.
Which begs the question: What do we sow? In the soil around us in the world, the good and the bad. What are the little good things that we sow through the little actions of our daily life?
I’ll say one example that I just saw this morning, as our two servers were getting ready, and we all know how brothers and siblings can be, right? And so you never know as a parent what you’re going to get when your kids are getting ready in the morning. One of these guys decided to share the last little packet of mini muffins. He split it into two and got a bowl and a cup of milk ready for his little brother who was still getting ready. That’s a very simple act of sowing; of sowing God’s grace into this world today.
Last night we all got the news that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice of many decades, passed away, and we can all pray for the repose of her soul. Someone that we know did much to fight for justice, but also did so much damage to the natural law and the good and the sowing Christ brings into the world. While we can be sorrowful for some of the decisions that she helped to lead to, and some of the arguments that she made, we can realize the opportunity that we have still to sow that good seed in the lives of those around us, to try and encourage others to live lives of grace.
I read a beautiful story last night posted by the son of Justice Scalia, who oftentimes argued vehemently for the natural law and the good, against Justice Ginsburg in the court. And his son said that there was a time that his dad had a vase of two dozen roses in his office, and one of his aides was asking what that was for, and he said, “I’m going to take it down to Justice Ginsburg for her birthday.” And the aide made a comment that was like, “Well, I don’t know that that’s going to sway her vote or get her to go the way we would like her to on some of these cases.” And his line was, “Some things are more important than votes.” And I think that’s another example, too, of Justice Scalia sowing the good, regardless of what the outcome might be, regardless of what he thought the type of soil might be, in those situations.
So may God give us the grace to let the little seeds that we plant in our daily life, regardless of how they look at the moment, still be sown by us. May He give us the grace to still make that effort and trust that Christ will raise it into something new, something beautiful on the last day, much like He raises His own body. Much like He gives us the gift of His Eucharist, something that looks very different than what we know that it is, the gift that we come here today to receive.