15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The parable of the sower only gets stranger the more you think about it. Why on earth is the sower scattering seed in all those places? Even a novice farmer would know things as basic as “rocky ground and paths aren’t great places for growing things.” And the seed the sower is scattering is worth money. A farmer who needs a crop to grow either for subsistence or profit can’t afford to waste seed that could yield fruit–to do so is to throw away either potential food or potential money. Yet the sower goes on.
Isaiah tells us today that God’s word is never scattered in vain. When God sends it out, it “[achieves] the end for which I sent it.” What we look upon as waste, God looks upon as quite deliberate and purposeful. We see why in the Psalm: before the seeds are scattered, the entire earth is drenched. God has “prepared the grain,” and also “prepared the land.” What we receive is no “cookie cutter” grace, but something prepared for us. And we are likewise prepared for it.
Over my past three years of teaching at a Jesuit high school, I have marvelled at the ways in which God has shaped and prepared the young men who pass through the school. Time and again, God’s grace works in the boys who arrive, making them men who are much different than I would have guessed. Likewise, I would never have thought that God was preparing me for life in the Jesuits when I was a student at a Jesuit high school. God prepares us without our realizing it for the grain we are to receive. We, in turn, need to be vigilant for the grain, so that when it comes, we are able to cultivate it properly to bear fruit.