Grace to you!
For those who live in the Sahara and the ancient Near East regions' arid axis, water is one of the most priceless commodities. It is similar to the situation in southern California and Arizona; and some of the desert areas of North Africa. In such regions, snow on the mountains or rain in the valley is a sure sign that farmers would smile. The lush green vegetation would greet travelers as they commute the winding highways or byways.
The effect of water on vegetation's flourishing, thereby food production and supply, is evident. Appealing to this imagery, Isaiah's prophecy (55:10-11) announces the fruitfulness of God's Word.
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Is 55:10-11).
In the above prophecy, God's Word is personified, just like in many other biblical texts where the Word of God is alluded to as a person (see Wis 9:9-10, Jn 1:14). The Word of God is powerful and effective, life-giving. This Word isn't a thing or a mere vocal breath inscribed in texts or typography. It isn't the product of our keyboards or smartphone clicks. Nor is it ink on wood parchment. This Word is a person, Christ the Lord.
Thus, this prophecy of Isaiah was already pointing to the Incarnation when God's Word will become flesh and dwell among us (Jn 1:14). The prophecy is the epilogue of the second of three segments of Isaiah's prophecies. The first one is from chapter 1 to 39, the second is from chapter 40 to 55, and the third is from chapter 56 to 66. One sees the cycle of a fall and redemption and the ultimate fulfillment in the Messiah, as a thread across all three of the segments.
Nothing is as fruitful as the life of God. Nothing is as life-giving as God's Word, which is Christ.
The prologue of John unveils this great mystery. How God's Word was in the beginning and was with God the Father, and how life is in the Word, the life which is also light for humanity (Jn 1:1-5). Thus, when God's Word, who is Christ, finds a home in any heart, it blooms. Just like water watering the arid ground, so does the Word make true life blossom in that person.
Have you ever wondered why the Church insists that the nucleus of evangelization is the Word, Christ? It is because Christ is the only one who gives life to the human heart and spirit, and elevates our life to become new, Divine life within.
The Church, however, also underscores the subjective dimension of what Christ has done. Just like in the parable of the sower, though the Word is alive and active (Heb 4:12), the human person has to say yes to Christ (the Word) for there to be the flourishing that the Word gives. The Word can't force its life on anyone. One has to embrace the Word for its transforming grace.
A "thanks and but no thanks" response means the Word plays a different role too. Since it has to fulfill its nature, it is either a blessing for the soul or judgment for rejection. One of the most gentle things about God's Word is that it doesn't go against the human person's freedom. Instead, Scripture tells us Christ is like the guest knocking at the door: "I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:20).
Thus, the sower, who is also Christ, and by special grace, those who preach him, continues to sow the Word (cf. Mt 13:1-23). The Word of God in Scripture read at liturgical celebrations and celebrated in the liturgical rites continues to be planted through the altars and pulpits of churches and in everyday life of faith sharing insofar as Christ is shared. Openness to God's Word, Christ, is in our best interest as we grow and mature in the true life, the life of God that Christ gives.
I pray we continue to be renewed in the Word. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[15th Sunday Ordinary Time A: Is 55:10-11; Rm 8:18-23; Mt 13:1-23]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.