Home Catechetical Corner Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Everything in our spiritual life depends on...

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Everything in our spiritual life depends on our spiritual location


Sunday Scripture readings for July 16, 2023, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 55:10-11  Ps 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14  Rom 8:18-23  Mt 13:1-23

Everything in our spiritual life depends on our spiritual location

A real estate agent friend often reminds customers that location is the most important element in buying or selling land. The location of a home or business makes a difference, as it determines the value of real estate in both the short and long term. When it comes to buying or selling property, it’s “location, location, location!”

This Sunday’s readings draw our attention to a different kind of location — the spiritual location of the heart, mind and will, and the eternal value and significance of what is taking place there. Everything in our spiritual life depends on our spiritual location. On where we are in relationship to God. On whether we are close to or far from God’s word and love.

God’s word is a living source of divine grace that prepares us to be rich soil, flourishing in a good spiritual location. The prophet Isaiah focuses on the priority of God’s saving work in our lives when he says, “…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.”

When we are in the right spiritual place, God’s word can and does wonders in our lives!

The psalmist offers the same spiritual advice in his hymn of praise to God as he says, “the seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.”

In the Gospel reading, Jesus is followed by a crowd so large that he gets into a boat and begins to teach in parables as the crowd stands along the shore. And like any good teacher, Jesus uses vivid imagery that echoes in the daily life of his listeners. Jesus’ parables are images, painted with words, that invite his audience to understand how the kingdom of God relates to their daily lives.

The parables engage reflection on discipleship as a call to conversion amid life’s joys and challenges. Through the parables Jesus offers his disciples, and us, his loving invitation to conversion of those interior locations of the mind and heart. When the disciples question Jesus on why he speaks in parables, he directs their minds to the attitude of openness to God’s words and deeds as a necessary condition of discipleship.

We may have heard the parable of the sower and the seed so many times that we overlook its powerful lesson for daily Christian discipleship. The seed falls in various locations — on a path, rocky ground, among thorns, and rich soil.

Each location in which the seed falls results in a different outcome.

Jesus’ lesson highlights the generosity of God, the sower of the seed, who seeds lavishly, in the hope that it will reach good soil – the best locations.

God’s word is a transformative presence in our daily life, just like a seed that is planted, takes root, grows strong, and bears good fruit. By remaining close to the spiritual location of God’s word we encounter the grace of God that gradually transforms the soil of our hearts and minds. We discover our true dignity and our life’s meaning and purpose in God, as we pray with joyful hope, “speak to me, Lord.”

Question: How will Jesus’ words take root in the soil of your mind and heart today?

Jem Sullivan holds a doctorate in religious education and is an associate professor of Catechetics in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

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