Sunday Sermon for July 12, 2020, the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Readings: Is 55: 10-11; Rom 8:18-23; Mt 13:1-23

In the first reading God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that His word will not return to Him void; rather, it will do His will, achieving the end for which He sent it.  This word can be understood in two ways: Jesus, the Word made flesh, or the Word of God spoken to us through the Scriptures. 

We know that Jesus fulfilled the purpose for which He was sent.  He taught, He suffered, He died, and He rose from the dead, thus achieving the redemption of the human race and the salvation of our souls.  Having fulfilled perfectly the will of His Father, He returned to Heaven. 

At the time Isaiah wrote his book, this prophecy could have referred to either or both of these interpretations.  However, for our purposes today, since the work of the Redeemer has already been accomplished, all that remains is for the Word of God as written in Scripture to be fulfilled in us.  Because it is God’s word, and His word is without error, it will be fulfilled perfectly and completely.  Jesus told us this when He said that not a jot or tittle (the smallest parts of the Hebrew letters) will pass away before all is fulfilled.

As it is in every age, it appears that much of what is written in Scripture is being fulfilled on our own day.  This can be frightening for some people, but for those with faith, we should see this as a most blessed time.  This is a time for us to be put to the test and fulfill the Word of God planted in us. 

Jesus tells us in the Gospel today that there are four kinds of soil into which the Word of God is planted.  There is the hard soil of the path, the rocky soil that has little or no depth, the thorny soil of the worldly, and the good soil.  We would all like to think we are the good soil, but are we?

Many who call themselves Catholics have no prayer life and pick and choose what they want to believe.  If they come to Mass, it is because they want something from God.  Others go through the motions of the faith, but do not want to learn what the Church teaches.  They compromise when the truth is inconvenient and stop praying and going to Mass because of fear.

Still others use their knowledge of the Church’s teaching to show off or judge others.  Mass is more of a social event and opportunity to be with friends than an opportunity to be with God and worship Him.  These persons they will stop attending Mass because of worldliness and political correctness.  Then there are those who continue to learn the Faith and study the Scriptures.  They pray and seek to serve God and neighbor; they would rather go the Mass and suffer the consequences than waffle to the coercion of those who fail to serve our Lord.

It is important that we take an honest inventory of ourselves and the importance of our faith.  If we recognize ourselves in one of the first three categories, then we are blessed that the Word of God has entered into our minds and hearts, but if the devil  has  stolen the Word due to our hardness of heart, we will not bear fruit unless we do something to improve the quality of our spiritual soil.

Regardless of which of the four kinds of soil we may be right now, we must apply the words of our Lord from the Gospel to ourselves: “Blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear.”  We are living in a blessed time.  It may not feel like that, and it will feel less and less that way as we move forward.  But this is the most blessed time in history, with the exception of the time Jesus and Mary were on earth. 

St. Paul says creation is groaning and in labor pains.  This is where we are at present.  The labor pains will bring great suffering, but St. Paul reminds us that the sufferings of the present time are as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed in us.  If you find yourself groaning, St. Paul tells us it is because we await the redemption of our bodies.  In other words, God is going to use the events of our day to make us Saints. 

If our hearts are hard, shallow, or constricted by worldliness, now is the time to turn to the Lord in prayer and beg Him to grant you a change of heart.  This change will allow us to become good soil so the Word of God will be fulfilled in us and we will achieve the end for which we have been created: Saints!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit