Our Hearts are the Fields to Receive God’s Word

Homily for 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
July 15-16, 2017
Sacred Heart, EGF – 5:30 PM
St. Francis of Assisi, Fisher – 8:00 AM; Holy Trinity, Tabor – 10:00 AM

Focus:              Our hearts are the fields to receive God’s Word.
Function:        Cultivate the field of your heart.


gardening

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I have to admit that I’ve never been much of a gardener. Don’t get me wrong, growing up on a farm, I’ve always enjoyed fieldwork. I enjoyed the hours spent driving the tractor as I cultivated the field. I loved the feel of the sun on my back and the wind in my face as I picked up the hay bales with the stackwagon. I reveled in the smell of freshly chopped silage as I rushed out to the field and back to pick up the next load.

But gardening…gardening is much different. Gardening is work. Several weeks back I helped my mom and dad plant their garden. I measured the distance between the rows. Then I hoed the dry and crusty ground, digging the rows by hand as my niece and nephew dropped in the seeds. It was easier for them to keep up with me than it was for me to keep up with them. Finally, I covered the seeds with the dry dirt and used my foot to pack the dirt over the seed.

In the days that followed, we watered and weeded, and we watched and waited. The next time that I was home, I was able to see the growth springing up. The dry, cracked earth had begun to be transformed by the seeds that were planted there. The barren landscape of that garden was transformed by some water and some work. It was made ready to receive the seed that would be planted. Soon, I expect that we will be enjoying the fruits of our labor – tomatoes, corn, onions, and potatoes. 

Our scriptures today remind us that “The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest” (Ps. 65). God’s Word is the seed that is sent forth like the rain from heaven, and it shall not return to him void, but shall do his will, achieving the end for which He sent it.

The seed of God’s Word is sown in the field of our hearts. Our hearts are the fields to receive the seed of his Word.

And like any field, our hearts need to be prepared to receive this seed if the seed is to spring up and bear fruit.

The soil of our hearts must be cultivated with silence so that we can hear the Word of God when it falls during the busyness of our days.

Our hearts must be weeded by the Master Gardener in the confessional; they must be watered with the tears of repentance for our sins so that the seed can grow without being choked off. The roots of vice must be plucked out to make room for the seeds of virtue.

Our hearts must be watered by the rains of prayer which soften them to receive the Word of God so that the seed can break open and bring forth conversion, transformation, new life.

Our hearts must be fertilized with gratitude for the many blessings with which the Lord enriches our lives.

The seed of God’s Word is sown in the field of our hearts. Our hearts are the fields to receive the seed of his Word.

A dry, weary land without water will not bring forth a fruitful harvest, and neither will a hardened heart, closed off to the Word of God, bear the fruit of the Gospel.

Brothers and sisters, you can come to Mass every Sunday and hear the Word of God proclaimed in the Scriptures but
if your heart is not open to receive it,
if you do not meditate on it and reflect on it,
if you do not think about it, pray about it, or put it into practice,
if you do not allow the Word to take root in your heart,
it will not bear fruit.
You will have eyes but you will not see. You will have ears but you will not hear.

But a softened heart,
a heart that has been prepared,
a heart that has been cultivated, watered, and fertilized,
a heart that is receptive to the Word of God proclaimed here every Sunday,
will bear abundant fruit.

The heart that is prepared, ready and waiting to receive the living Word of God, will receive it when it comes.

The seed of God’s Word will take root in that heart,
where it will be cracked open and the life it contains will burst forth,
transforming the landscape of that heart from a dry land into a fruitful field,
bearing 30, or 60, or 100 fold.

What is the state of your heart?

What work needs to be done in your heart so that it can better receive the seed of God’s Word?

One thing is certain. God’s word is poured out. The seed of God’s word will be sown.

Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful…
so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

God’s Word will not return to him empty. It will bear fruit. The question is, will it bear fruit in your heart? Will your heart be the rich soil on which it falls, or will it be dirt of the path, the rocky ground, or the thorny ground?

This is not an easy task. Gardening is hard work. It requires humility. It takes patience, it takes persistence, and it takes perseverance.

It is easy to be open to the Word that we agree with. It is much more difficult to be open to the Word that challenges us. But the fruit is worth the effort. The sufferings of the present are as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). If we prepare our hearts to be worthy fields of the seed of God’s Word that is entrusted to us, then we will glory in the harvest of our lives when we stand before God on judgement day.

Soon, the seed of the living Word of God Himself will appear on this altar.

The sower is about to cast his seed from this altar.
This is the seed that gives life to all who believe.
The Eucharist is the seed that has the power to transform your heart because it is none other than the living Word of God, Jesus Christ himself, the Word made Flesh who dwells among us in the gift of his Body and Blood.

Our hearts are the fields upon which this Seed is sown.

May they be hearts of rich soil so as to yield a harvest worthy of Heaven.

 

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