Lectionary Reflections: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a] July 13, 2014

Engaging Faith | Thu, Jul 3, 2014

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

July 13, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern


Isaiah 55:10-11

Romans 8:18-23

Matthew 13:1-23 or 13:1-9



July 14: Feast Day of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, patroness of ecology and the environment

July 18: Nelson Mandela International Day



Inequality is the root of social evil.

Pope Francis @Pontifex, April 28, 2014

If there is hunger anywhere in the world, then our celebration of the Eucharist is somehow incomplete everywhere in the world.

Pedro Arrupe, SJ

…We have been given hope, trustworthy hope…

Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 1

None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice (EG 201).

Pope Francis @Pontifex, April 26, 2014

Hence, as Leo XIII so wisely taught in Rerum Novarum: "whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and corporeal, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God's Providence, for the benefit of others. ‘He that hath a talent,’ says St. Gregory the Great, ‘let him see that he hide it not; he that hath abundance, let him quicken himself to mercy and generosity; he that hath art and skill, let him do his best to share the use and the utility thereof with his neighbor.’”

John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, 119

We have a lot of work to do. Every time we reach out and assuage someone's hunger, and do that in memory of Jesus, a sense of Eucharist will bring to consciousness the Spirit and the real presence of Jesus - in us, through us, among us. That Spirit alone is capable of transforming us and the world. 

Miriam Therese Winter, MMS

The hungry nations of the world cry out to the peoples blessed with abundance. And the Church, cut to the quick by this cry, asks each and every [person] to hear his [or her] brother's [and sister’s] plea and answer it lovingly.               

Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 3


Thoughts for your consideration

Today’s readings remind us of the possibilities that can happen as God’s gifts are used well. Abundance and fruitfulness are possible. Good things are possible. We can work together toward the common good.  We can work together toward ending hunger and injustice. 

Isaiah says that the rain and snow will not return to God until they have watered the earth and made it fertile and fruitful.  The parable of Jesus affirms that a 30 or 60 or 100 fold increase is possible.  To use the image of the second reading, there is a purpose to the groaning and struggling of life. It all leads to something good.

We live in a world that has abundant resources.  The world can provide food and shelter for everyone.  However, some people are very rich and some are very poor.  Some people share in the abundance and some people have almost nothing.  Some people live on a dollar a day and some people have millions of dollars to spend.  Some people eat very well and some have trouble eating once a day.  Some people have electricity and some have none. Some people have two or more homes.  Some people are homeless. Some live in a way that cares and respects our planet and its environment and some abuse and overuse our natural resources.

In a world of great possibilities, a just distribution of God’s gifts is the challenge. God invites us to a responsible sharing of the abundance and a renewal of structures that will give everyone a just opportunity to share in the riches of the world. We can share the abundance or we can hoard the abundance.  We have a choice.

In the gospel parable today the image of the sower is that of one who generously, almost recklessly scatters seeds everywhere.  Grace is abundant.  The goodness of God is abundant.  God’s word is abundant.  The possibilities for the world and its people are numerous and wonderful.  The challenge is to share this abundance responsibly and lovingly.  Some close their eyes or ears or hearts and do not respond to the word. Chocked by wealth and anxiety, we can close ourselves to the reality of the poor and marginalized of our world. Shocked by the structures and institutions of our world, we can feel paralyzed.  The word today reminds us that something more is possible.


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

  • What are the things in your life that choke off the effectiveness of the word of God?  
  • What are the things in our society that choke off the effectiveness of the word of God?


  • How do the people of the world hoard the abundance God has given us?  
  • Do you find yourself hoarding the abundance?



Aesop’s Fable: The Lion and The Mouse

A lion was awakened from sleep by a Mouse running over his face. Rising up angrily, he caught him and was about to kill him, when the Mouse piteously entreated, saying: "If you would only spare my life, I would be sure to repay your kindness." The Lion laughed and let him go. It happened shortly after this that the Lion was caught by some hunters, who bound him by ropes to the ground. The Mouse, recognizing his roar, came and gnawed the rope with his teeth, and set him free exclaiming "You ridiculed the idea of my ever being able to help you, expecting to receive from me any repayment of your favor;  now you know that it is possible for even a Mouse to con benefits on a Lion." 



“Crazy Facts”

  • “There is enough food in the world today for everyone to have the nourishment necessary for a healthy and productive life.”
  • “The world has long produced enough calories, around 2,700 per day per human, more than enough to meet the United Nations projection of a population of nine billion in 2050, up from the current seven billion. There are hungry people not because food is lacking, but because not all of those calories go to feed humans (a third go to feed animals, nearly 5 percent are used to produce biofuels, and as much as a third is wasted, all along the food chain).”
  • “The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing countries, representing 15 percent of the population of developing counties.” …  The world produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day.”


Actions - Links


Oxfam International is trying to address the challenge of climate change and hunger.

Hot and Hungry: How to stop climate change derailing the fight against hunger


“United for a Fair Economy challenges the concentration of wealth and power that corrupts democracy, deepens the racial divide and tears communities apart. We use popular economics education, trainings, and creative communications to support social movements working for a resilient, sustainable and equitable economy.”  


Prayers of Intercession

Response:  May God’s justice rain down on the earth.

For those living in extreme poverty, we pray….

For those who enjoy extreme wealth and prosperity, we pray….

For those who do not have enough to eat this day, we pray….

For those who do not have employment, we pray….

For those who do not have their own land to farm, we pray….

For children who do not have access to education, we pray….

For older people who do not have the care they need to live with dignity, we pray….

For our planet which is suffering from our overuse and misuse, we pray….

For those who have special responsibility for our governments and public policies, we pray….


Prayer - Meditation

All-nourishing God, your children cry for help

Against the violence of our world:

Where children starve for bread and feed on weapons;

Starve for vision and feed on drugs;

Starve for love and feed on videos;

Starve for peace and die murdered in our streets.

Creator God, timeless preserver of resources,

Forgive us for the gifts that we have wasted.

Renew for us what seems beyond redemption;

Call order and beauty to emerge again from chaos.

Convert our destructive power into creative service;

Help us to heal the woundedness of our world.

Liberating God, release us from the demons of violence.

Free us today from the disguised demon of deterrence

That puts guns by our pillows and missiles in our skies.


Free us from all demons that blind and blunt our spirits;

Cleanse us from all justifications for violence and war;

Open our narrowed hearts to the suffering and the poor.


Abiding God, loving renewer of the human spirit,

Unfold our violent fists into peaceful hands:

Stretch our sense of family to include our neighbors;

Stretch our senses of neighbor to include our enemies;

Until our response to you finally respects and embraces

All creation as precious sacraments of your presence.


Hear the prayer of your starving children. Amen.

Source: Prayer for a New Society, (c) Pax Christi USA, 1995