(15th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23)
Fr. Paul Belhumeur, M.S. is passionate about nature and creation. He is also an avid gardener, and understands the importance of good soil, and even has his own all-natural recipe for it.
I asked him, therefore, to offer some thoughts on today’s readings.
In the first reading, he noted the image of God speaking through nature and comparing the word “that goes forth from my mouth” to the rain that makes the earth fertile and fruitful.
In the Psalm, God has greatly enriched the land, producing unimaginable abundance: “You have crowned the year with your bounty, and your paths overflow with a rich harvest; the untilled meadows overflow with it, and rejoicing clothes the hills.” In the Gospel, the seed is good, but needs the right soil.
Making the connection to La Salette, Fr. Paul sees God’s image in nature spoiled by sin; there is no abundance. But the image of Jesus shines on Mary’s breast, offering hope.
The long version of today’s Gospel includes a quotation from Isaiah: “Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted, and I heal them.”
The message of La Salette is a response to that hardness of heart. To use the image of the garden, we may say that Our Lady is reminding her people of tools available for tending to the garden of the soul.
We have the sacraments. Baptism waters the soil, Eucharist provides nutrients to enrich it, Reconciliation removes stones, thorns and other obstacles.
Holy Mother Church provides additional tools: Adoration, the Rosary, a great variety of devotions. Among them, let us not forget our La Salette novenas and prayers (at least an Our Father and a Hail Mary).
None of which will guarantee a bountiful harvest, literally or spiritually. That is the Lord’s work. But by his grace we can prepare our soil, so that the seed (the Word) may take root in our souls, making them fertile and fruitful, as we make Mary’s message known.
Wayne Vanasse and Fr. René Butler, M.S.