15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 16th July, 2017

Liturgical Reflection


Be surprised by God working in and through us!

Throughout his entire Gospel, Matthew seeks to respond to two questions:

  • Who is Jesus?
  • What does it mean to be a disciple-on-mission?

On this particular Sunday our listening is directed to the third of Matthew’s great “sermons” – The Mystery of God’s Kingdom.

The Sower God – Jesus – plants seeds of truth and light in the hearts of believers. Ideally believers recognise these seeds flourishing in their own lives and in the lives of other believers – the ‘good soil’. Ideally their ears are so finely tuned to Jesus, the Word of Life, that believers readily respond to Jesus’ vivid imagination and inspiration.

But, in reality, believers are a patchy lot! They lack focus (sow seeds carelessly), they are negligent (sow seeds on rocks), they are rootless (sow seeds in shallow soil), and they are easily distracted (sow seeds among thorns).

So, Christian believers of 2017, do we have the ears for listening? In gathering together as community each Sunday might we also be inattentive, half-hearted, or restless at this fabulous Table of the Word, of imagination and inspiration?

To help us refocus, let’s return to Matthew’s primary purpose. In this proclamation today: Who is Jesus? He is the master story-teller revealing insightful parables to the simple and the seekers (remember last Sunday’s Gospel? The learned and clever missed the point!) He is the narrator of the obvious to those seemingly without hope. He is the bearer of astounding ‘good news’ for the fringe-dwellers whom society ignores. With an eye to ‘best practice’, he is the farmer who invests in fruitful harvests.

What does it mean to be a believer, a disciple? A disciple is one who listens, listens deeply, listens again and again and again. The disciple is the one sits with the seed – the Word of God – and recognises the voice of the Sower. The disciple is the one who waits patiently, for insight slowly breaking through, from within. A disciple is one who is ‘rich soil’ for God’s mysterious purposes.

What does it mean to be a disciple-on-mission? A disciple-on-mission is one who listens so deeply that he/she feels impelled to act in the name, in the way of Jesus. A disciple-on-mission comes to know the gospel as a rule of life. A disciple-on-mission perceives a way of being in the ‘present moment’ which is ‘of God’, not of oneself. Be surprised by the harvest of God’s working in and through us!

So… in that long tradition from the prophet Isaiah right down to us, can the Lord be heard saying:

‘… the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty,
without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it is sent to do’

Jill Shirvington OP