JULY 23, 2004- HOMILY
MATTHEW 13: 18-23

WHAT WAS SOWN ON GOOD SOIL, THIS IS THE PERSON WHO HEARS THE WORD AND UNDERSTANDS IT. We think of the period of the primitive Church as a privileged time. Certainly, it was a period of special charisms and holiness of life. However, before long the believers began to meet with the same kind of reception that the Lord himself had received and persecution began to cause many problems for the congregation.

By the time the Gospels were being written the young Church had already passed through some very serious trials due to persecution; others, however, had succumbed to the temptations that all who live in the world are exposed to. Some had been too concerned about making a living, others became over-occupied with worries about their family, others yielded to laziness and did not work at deepening their understanding of the faith and their commitment.

They neglected the word of God and prayer. As a result not every one had remained faithful. A certain number of those who had at first accepted the word of the Gospel left the Church. These developments had begun to disturb the community and raised questions in their minds about the future of the congregation.

St. Matthew realized that this situation was proving to be a threat to the faith and peace of the Church for which he was responsible. It was with this state of affairs in mind that he wrote his version of this parable that Jesus had preached some years before he recorded it. It is not enough to receive the word of God, to hear and consent to it; we must prepare a place for it in our heart where it can take deep root and flourish in the form of good works and praise of God. We must become discerning so as to recognize the temptations that arise from life in this world so as to ward them off before they choke the life of God within us. We must make use of the opportunities offered us by Godís Providence to cultivate those habits of mind and heart which give support to our faith and make of our soul a dwelling place for the Word of God.

Fidelity to the message of the Gospel, Matthew reminds us, requires our vigilance and daily effort. So many other concerns can gradually take over our interest and energy that we lose sight of the one thing necessary, the Kingdom of God. The word of God planted in our hearts by the preaching of the Lord Jesus is a word of eternal life, inviting us to make of the life given us in this world a fruitful season yielding a harvest that will ever nourish us.

May the grace of this word of the Gospel and of the Eucharist we now offer sustain us this day and throughout our life in this work of salvation to the praise of Godís glory.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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