OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

The Gospel today is the beginning of a new section in Matthew, called ‘The Parabolic Discourse’ - a section of parables Jesus tells the crowd, which we will read over the next three weeks. A parable is a story with a hidden meaning: we can easily remember the story, and gradually the true meaning becomes clearer and clearer. Today is a famous example: the Parable of the Sower. In itself it is a story that would easily be understood by Jesus’s audience - people who lived in an agricultural economy. Jesus uses their understanding to make an important teaching about the message he has brought: it is like a seed that is thrown out and received in different ways - the ideal is when the seed finds good soil, and produces a crop that can be seen and harvested: so the ideal listener to the word is one who allows it to lodge in the heart, but also produces a visible result. What is the harvest we should yield, when we have heard the word ?

Notes for Readers

From the Catechism

First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11.
 
This reading acts as a prelude to the parable we will hear in the Gospel. Despite it being very short, it is difficult to read because it is a single sentence. It is important as a way of setting the scene: we are in an agricultural mood today - a mood which is continued by the Psalm, and serves to lead us to the Gospel.  Begin confidently: 'Thus says the Lord...’ is a formal announcement. Then follows the image being used to illustrate the point: the rain and the snow. Make sure that this comes across clearly. The first half of the sentence (up to ‘bread for the eating...’) is a single unit, and can be read as such (but with a slight pause after ‘making it yield’). Then there should be a pause, before going on to the second half: emphasise the word ‘so...’ quite heavily. Then allow the resonance of the phrase ‘does not return to me...’ to pick up the first half of the sentence again. Because this is such a short and dense reading, it will have to be read very slowly - but not so slowly that the structure and meaning is lost !
 
Second Reading: Romans 8:18-23.
 
The first words give away the tone of this reading: ‘I think...’ Paul is musing on something huge and wonderful: the idea that all of creation (everything that God has made) is looking forward to the day when all things are brought together in Christ. Just as we wait for the resurrection of our bodies - the perfect new life in Christ - so does all creation wait for the new heaven and earth God promises. There are some wonderful words and images in this reading: ‘suffer’, ‘glory’, ‘slavery to decadence’, groaning’. The image of the whole of Creation groaning in an act of giving birth is remarkable: think about it for a while before reading !
CCC 546
Christ teaches through parables

CCC 1703-1709
Capacity to know and correspond to the voice of God

CCC 2006-2011
God associates man in working of grace

CCC 1046-1047
Creation part of the new universe

CCC 2707
The value of meditation

CCC 546
Jesus' invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to "know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven". For those who stay "outside", everything remains enigmatic.

Gospel Wordsearch