Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

Engaging Faith | Tue, Jul 19, 2011

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

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

July 10, 2011



     Isaiah 55:10-11

     Romans 8:18-23

     Matthew 13:1-23 or 13:1-9



July 11 Anniversary of Srebrenica Slaughter in Bosnia (2011 is the 16th anniversary)

July 11 World Population Day

July 14 Feast Day of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha

The first Native American to be declared Blessed; Patroness of ecology and the environment



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

“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 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

… we have been given hope, trustworthy hope ….

Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi

“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

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. Hunger and injustice can come to an end.

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 take advantage of this abundance.  Some close their eyes or ears or hearts and do not respond to the word. Choked by wealth and anxiety, we can close ourselves to the reality of the poor and marginalized of our world.  Choked 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?


Actions - Links


The Eco-Justice Program office of the National Council of Churches works in cooperation with the NCC Eco-Justice Working Group to provide an opportunity for the national bodies of member Protestant and Orthodox communions to work together to protect and restore God's Creation.  You can consider taking legislative action with them at 


“Crazy Facts”

The United Nations estimates that 925 million people in the world are undernourished.


A Story

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 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 confer benefits on a Lion."


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 planet which is suffering from our overuse and misuse, 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.

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