Just a Word… Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Just a Word… Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time… July 12, 2020

How do you know when it’s time to give up control of something? For example, my garden. Bob and I have lived in our home for 41 years. For 40 of those years, we had a vegetable garden in the backyard, and every summer would gather tomatoes (my favorite!), zucchini, cucumbers and peppers to enjoy at dinner. When combined with the lettuce and herbs from our kitchen garden, we would have a feast. However, all that changed when three years ago the squirrels that previously played in the garden but didn’t dine there, somehow realized that they might satisfy their hunger with the shiny red objects dangling from the plants in the garden. We tried everything short of violence to keep them from the tomatoes…to no avail. Fencing, netting, red pepper spray…you name it, we tried it. Last year, not one tomato made it to our table. That was the last straw. This year, determined not to have a repeat performance, we planted a perennial flower garden, and with the exception of a bunny who nibbled on a coreopsis, we have been pest free. It was clearly time to forego the dream of the tomato garden, and move forward into a different dream, that of a perennial garden.

Listening to our Gospel today, I couldn’t help but relate my garden experience to the story of the sower and the seed. For instance, it takes humility to really hear the Word of God, the seed, to be open to recognizing that no one of us is complete, without the need to change or grow in some way. It requires imagination to become good soil, to have the creativity to dream beyond what is already happening to what is possible. And it takes conviction to respond to the hearing and imagining to act concretely in the world.

Jesus scatters the Word of God indiscriminately, an equal opportunity sower of the seeds of God’s reign. He hasn’t given up on any of the soils which receive the seed, but promises that the more open the soil is to the Word, the deeper the roots will develop; the greater the commitment to that Word, the simpler our lives become.

Jesus invites us, the recipients of the Word, to use our humility, our imagination, and our conviction to ponder what it is God asks of us, and how the world can be enriched through us. When we do this, when we follow the Word and make it integral to our lives, we move from trying to control that tomato garden that is unable to produce, to the unfolding of the ultimate perennial garden of God’s Kingdom.

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