A Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
July 12, 2020
by The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
“Open Your Ears”
You know, it’s been said, that if you started attending church as a child, by the time you are 25, you have heard God’s word read and explained about a thousand times. After all these times, why haven’t we improved more than we have?
The answer to the question may lie in the parable Jesus tells in today’s gospel.
Jesus teaches people in parables when he wants to get a point across. The parable uses a common experience to explain a deeper meaning. In fact, this parable of the sower belongs to a group of parables sometimes called the Mirror parables. These parables act as a mirror into which we can look and see ourselves.
Understand, in ancient times when you sowed grain, you didn’t have plows like we do today. You would broadcast the seed and then most people would take a stick or log and push the seed down as the oxen pulled. It was murderous work. So, you could only scratch the ground a little.
It was not uncommon for some of the seed to blow on to footpaths that crisscrossed fields or to blow into rows of thorn bushes or briers that sometime enclosed fields to discourage animals from entering them.
The other thing that is amazing about this parable is the fact that the sower is so sloppy and generous with the seed. Clearly, that’s not what you do. It says something about God’s word being spread.
What about the incredible yield? Today, we would say, if you had a yield of seven or eight times the result, that’s good! You would never get 30, 60 or 100, ever. That crazy!
So, we ask the question like the disciples did “What does it all mean?”
The farmer in parable is Jesus.
The seed is God’s word.
The seedbeds- path, rock, thorn, good soil- refer to the people who hear God’s word.
Some people reject it outright. Other receive it, and reject it later. Still others receive it, treasure it, and put it into practice.
It is important to note that in only one case was the word rejected outright. In the other three cases it was received with joy.
The problem is not in hearing or receiving God’s word. The problem is in treasuring it and putting it into practice.
There are, therefore, three steps involved in responding to God’s word: listening to it, receiving it, treasuring it, and practicing it.
The first step is hearing God’s word. We might call it the “mind” step. It involves listening attentively to Scripture being read and explained. Notice that before Jesus tells the parable he says, “Listen.” Then, before he explains the meaning he says, “the one who has ears let them listen.” How often do we remind each other that “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.”
The second step is treasuring God’s word. It might be called the “heart” step. It involves taking to heart the word we have just heard. We consider its implications for our life and how it can make our life better.
The third step is putting God’s word into practice. We might call the third step the “soul” step. It involves acting on what our heart has treasured.
My friends, if we can begin to put these three steps into action after we have heard God’s word, then we can be assured that we will not only grow but flourish in God’s grace.
But, it all starts with listening. Opening our ears to be receptive to the good news that is extravagantly being broadcasted in our midst.
God has many things He desires to reveal to us. So, open your ears O faithful people. Open your ears and hear God’s word. Amen.
~Fr. Joseph C. Alsay
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.