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Receive the Word and Bear Fruit

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Blueberries were one of my favorite fruits growing up and I think I was in middle school when I convinced my parents to give me a little spot of the garden to grow a blueberry bush. We ordered one which honestly looked like a dead stick when we got it, stuck it in the ground… and nothing happened. I thought it totally died but the next summer it started having some new growth of green coming off of it. I got excited about it and by the end of the summer… nothing. It turns out blueberries are one of those plants that have a male and a female version and you need both if you want any berries to be produced. So the next year we bought four blueberry plants, this time a little healthier ones, and I was so excited and by the end of the summer…

nothing. It turns out that blueberry plants need a lot of acid in their soil and our garden had none. So the next summer I got some Miracle Grow acid mix and kept feeding the bushes and at some point I started to see some little berries start to grow. I got all excited and checked on them and by a few days later… nothing. It turns out that birds also like blueberries and don’t necessarily wait for you to pick ones for yourself first. So at that point I gave up and settled for the blueberries at Giant Eagle.

Today’s scripture imagines the Word of God as a seed that bears much fruit, unlike my stupid blueberry plants. The gospel gives us this wonderful and memorable parable about the seed being sown and how the context for that seed to take root has so much importance. If the Word is sown in those who hear it but do not try to understand, it can be taken away by the evil one. If the Word is sown in those who hear it and rejoice but do not let it go deep into their lives, it withers. If the Word is sown in those who hear it but also put their heart on worldly things, the worldly things choke the Word. It is the one who hears it, who struggles to understand it, who places it deep into their hearts and allow nothing else to take root… those are the ones who bear tremendous fruit from the Word. In other words, a blueberry push was placed in your hands, and now you need to make sure it has everything that it needs to grow and produce.

But don’t worry, this is a lot easier than growing literal blueberry plants. Jesus told his disciples they were blessed because many prophets and righteous people longed to see what they saw but did not see it, and longed to hear what they heard but did not hear it. We share in that blessing of the disciples. We have seen the presence of God made physical before us in the sacrament of the Eucharist and we have heard his words in the gospels as plainly as the disciples heard his words with their own ears. We live in the time of the Church, as the Body of Christ that has been empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim they mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. We get to live in the richest soil that humanity has ever known, with all the graces and knowledge that has been handed on to us.

The only thing left to worry about is our willingness to listen, and our willingness to take advantage of all the things around us that support and foster our faith. As a way to engage yourself in that openness, I encourage you to take the rest of this summer as a time of listening and understanding. The gospels of Ordinary Time are often challenging in their message. Listen for that gospel that challenges you this summer, the one that pushes you to limits that you know are in your life. That’s all I ask of you today. The Word of God is effective and will not return to Him void. If you listen to the gospels this summer, the power of the Word will do the rest.


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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.

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