15th Sunday – Overcoming Pessimism and Sowing the Seed

In our Holy Father’s letter about the new evangelization, he talks about obstacles that keep us from proclaiming the good news – one of these obstacles is pessimism.    We too easily give up.


We know we have to share our faith – that is it is a duty Christ has given us, but we have a million excuses not to.


Why encourage my son or daughter to get married in a Church?  He hasn’t gone to Church is ten years why now?  It’s just going to start a fight.


Some parishes are trying to visit door to door all registered in the parish and invite them back to Mass.   It would be easy to say it is a huge amount of work – most people won’t even open the door, and they will all think we’re a little nuts.


Why participate in activities like 40 Days for Life or the Life Chain?  Abortion is legal in our country – it’s not going to change any time soon.    We just need to accept that this is the world we live in.


This attitude is different from that of the Gospel we have just heard.   Bishop Andre Durocher of Gatineau once said a real sower does not sow like this – throwing seed on the path, on dry rocky ground, on weeds.   He doesn’t throw seed around wastefully – he tills the soil and sows the seed ONLY in good soil.   The point of the Gospel is that God is not like us – he is not a human sower – God is generous with his word – he spreads it everywhere, even in places where he knows it can’t grow.


If we were to tell the same parable about the Church today, we might say the following – a sower went out to sow and all he could find was rocky, dry ground – so he came inside found a small pot and planted the seed in the pot and placed it on his mantle.   Then he complained that the harvest was small.  We complain that attendance at Mass is going down, yet we do little to change the trend.


The point of today’s gospel is that we must go out and sow the seed  – it is true that some people will refuse to hear the word.   There will be some whose love for the world will make it impossible for them to respond.  There are some who will answer but not persevere.   But there will also be some who respond and produce lots of fruit.     And how good are we to judge who will be changed and who will not?   If we were in Jesus time –  who we would we expect to be the most likely recipients of the word?  Jesus own villagers – who knew him and saw how special he was?   The religious authorities – they knew the scriptures and were waiting devoutly for the messiah to come?   Would we have wasted our time with tax collectors, prositutes, fishermen?   Yet these responded and the others did not.  Looking at the CDs available at the back of the Church – the speakers come from very unlikely backgrounds – former protestant preachers, staunch atheist, a young man involved in gangs and drugs, a former director of an abortion clinic.   Not only did they hear the word – they are bearing fruit.  Perhaps those we think least likely to respond to the Gospel will be the ones who bear the greatest fruit?


Our job is to not to make sure every seed grows – our job is to spread the seeds, to spread the word.  Some will bear fruit, some will not, but if we don’t spread it, we are guaranteed a sparse harvest.


I’m going to use an analogy that may put me in trouble with some of our parishioners – but at least that will help you remember.   Last year the Toronto Maple Leafs made the playoffs for the first time in almost ten years.   In game seven against the Boston Bruins they were up three goals by the end of the second period.  I remember the commentator saying “It’s all over now – boston fans are leaving the arena.”    Those of us who know and love the Maple Leafs know that it is not so certain!   And of course Boston was able to score three goals in the last ten minutes of the game – force overtime and then win the game in overtime.  Not only did they win – they went to the Stanley cup finals.


As Christians we are often like those Boston fans – we give up and leave the arena before the game is over.     But even though it looks like the world and the devil is certain to win – it is certain that they will loose.   Ultimately Jesus Christ will be the victor and we want to be part of the winning team.  Pope Francis reminds us:


“Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand. If we start without confidence, we have already lost half the battle and we bury our talents. While painfully aware of our own frailties, we have to march on without giving in, keeping in mind what the Lord said to Saint Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). (EG 85)