Homily September 23rd, 2023

Saturday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time – Lk 8:4-15

Today’s Gospel presents us with the well-known Parable of the Sower. It’s a parable that we find in the three synoptic Gospels, and in all three, there’s something really fascinating about it. Although Jesus often speaks in parables, He actually takes the time to explain this one in detail; Jesus Himself tells us what it means. Jesus really wants us to learn something significant; He doesn’t want there to be any confusion. In Luke’s version of this parable, the meaning Jesus gives it is clear: He says directly, “The seed is the word of God” (8:11), and the different grounds are the different souls of believers. Although all the grounds are important, we can focus just on the rocky ground, where it’s hard to put down roots, and what it means.

Jesus tells us that these rocky souls are the ones “who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.” This sort of rocky ground doesn’t mean that there are occasional rocks scattered throughout. The word Jesus uses refers to something fairly common in Palestine; there would be large beds of limestone under the fields, so that there would be a few inches of soil, and then nothing but pure, unyielding rock.[1] The seed sprouts, and in fact grows very quickly, but any sort of challenge that comes sucks away its life and the little plant dies.

Jesus mentions that it is temptation that really tries the plant. The seed on rocky ground receives God’s word joyfully, because, as Jesus Christ Himself tells us, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin . . . [But] if [the] son frees you, then you will truly be free” (Jn 8:34, 36). The rocky soul experiences that joy of being free, of letting God’s word liberate it from the chains of slavery to sin . . . but something happens. That Word isn’t firmly rooted: the pressures come. That soul was so happy to be freed, but those old sins start calling again. It remembers those momentary joys, and how hard it was to give them up, and . . . the soul goes back to those sins. The change brought about by the Word of God wasn’t rooted; the conversion was only superficial. Especially as we struggle, this scene repeats itself time and time again in our lives.

We can ask ourselves, where is the rocky soil in my life? When it comes to those internal struggles, where do I keep falling into sin? Do I keep pushing forward, making the effort to be the saint God is calling me to be? Do I go to confession, and pick myself up and keep fighting? And when it comes to those external pressures: do I try to understand what the Church teaches and why? Do I love her, just as Christ loved her, to the point of giving up the things of this life for her? Where is the rocky soil in my life?

            Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Faith, let us ask for the grace to remove those things that prevent us from bearing fruit, and so love God with all our hearts.  

[1] Cf. William Barclay’s commentary on this text.



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