The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 19, 2020
“We Proclaim A Harvest!”
Isaiah 44: 1-8
Psalm 139: 1-10
Romans 8: 12-18
Matthew 13: 36-43
Bishop Ariel P. Santos
In Psalm 50, God said to His covenant people (the Church, the Christians), “You thought that I was just like you.” Sadly, up to this day, some think that God is like them. Thinking that they are made in the image of God, what they are is what God is.
I am not being political, but it is sad that a major network experienced misfortune because of its closure. One preacher with a large following was gloating over the fact that one of the noontime TV hosts of the network fought against him and made fun of him. Now, this preacher is making fun of this TV personality because of what happened to them. The preacher uses God to say that what the network is experiencing is His judgment because God is avenging him as he claims to be the anointed man of God, and God is laughing at the network for their misfortune. This is not like God at all.
Isaiah 55 say, “Your thoughts are not My thoughts; My thoughts are higher than your thoughts. Your ways are not My ways. My ways are higher than your ways.” God says that His ways have compassion and He abundantly pardons. What is pardon? There is a presidential pardon which is a privilege of a president to decide whether someone who is sentenced to death or life time imprisonment can be set free and not finish his sentence. This is pardon and God abundantly pardons. We think God is an avenger, a punisher and one day will judge bad people. No, God has compassion and God is love. His only attitude, disposition, behavior and thought toward us is love. Love is the intention or desire for the good of another. It is the pursuit of anything that will accomplish that good.
I always say that love is one way. If we have love, we will love one way – outward – toward the object of our love, and we would not expect anything in return. It is up to the recipient of our love to respond with a one-way love. This is true love – nothing to expect in return. It is always for the good of the other. If it becomes two-way, it is good for us because we learn to love.
One theologian says that hell is the loss of the ability to love. Hell is a state of no longer being able to love. Some of our sufferings are caused by others evil deeds. Some people become victims not of their fault. Generally, our suffering is not because God is punishing us but because we are guilty of sins of commission or omission. We do not respond to the seeds He has scattered.
In the gospel, God is the Sower in the parable and He sows generously. The seed is something good and it symbolizes life. God is so generous, even wasteful, indiscriminate, and reckless and He gives to all. He is not thinking like we think. Sometimes, we think that we only give to one whom we can get something in return. Jesus says to invite in a party those who cannot repay you. Love is one way and our thinking is not like how God thinks. At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that if we love only those whom we love, we are no different than the Gentiles. If we greet only those who greet us, we are thinking only of ourselves. We are not thinking of another person’s welfare,
Jesus said, “Love your enemies even though you are unworthy, so that you will be sons of God. Be like your Father, Who, while we were unworthy enemies, while we were sinners, sent Jesus to give His life for us. Furthermore, God doesn’t stop until His will is done. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He who started a good work in us, when He created us, will bring it into completion. The good start in us is that He gave us life and He will bring it into completion.
Isaiah said, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” What is the will of God? Isaiah says, “You will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” All creation will rejoice with us as God accomplished His will in our lives. “Instead of the thorn bush, the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, and it will be a memorial to the Lord, for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.” Instead of sadness, it will be replaced by joy and peace. Instead of poverty, it will be replaced by prosperity. The whole creation will rejoice with us.
There is the universalist position that says that since all mankind have been created by God, all will be saved no matter how bad they are. The conditionalist position says a person being saved will depend on the response of a person to the goodness of God. My position is not an assumptionist, a preemptist, a universalist or a conditionalist. I cannot preempt God. What I know is that I can put my hope in Him. I am hopeful and I put my trust in God who can make anyone stand.
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Sower: first, don’t be like a Christian who is on the side of the road, who spends no time and effort for the Word of God. Read His Word every day. Second, don’t be like a Christian in the rocky place who have no depth of soil and who is weak against trials. Third, don’t be among the thorn that prioritize worldly things and seeks not the kingdom of God first and His righteousness. Fourth, be the good soil who will bear fruit thirty, sixty and a hundredfold. This is not on our own ability; yield ourselves to God and stand on His grace because His grace, His seed in us will make us bear fruit. Don’t fight against it and don’t reject it.
God gives to all. The quality of our lives depends on our response, not on the Source of all good things. What only comes from Him is love. What only comes from Him is His goodness. Why can’t we see the goodness of God in our lives? Often, it is because we reject God. Yield ourselves to Him and we will produce until a hundredfold.
God is good all the time but our responses, our decisions, but our actions are not necessarily good all the time. God is for us and He gave us free will. He tells us to hear and to choose life. May we respond so that we can have abundant life because this is His will and this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.