Divina Lectio: Saints Joachim and Ann, parents of Mary
1) Opening prayer
be merciful to your people.
Fill us with your gifts
and make us always eager to serve you
in faith, hope and love.
You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading – Matthew 13,1-9
That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into the boat and sat there. The people all stood on the shore and he told them many things in parables.
He said, ‘Listen, a sower went out to sow.
As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up at once, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Anyone who has ears should listen!’
• In chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew the third great discourse begins, the Discourse of the Parables. As we already said before, in the commentary on the Gospel of July 9th, Matthew organized his Gospel like a new edition of the Law of God or like a new “Pentateuch” with its five books. For this reason his Gospel is composed of five great discourses or teachings of Jesus, followed by narrative parts, in which he describes how Jesus put into practice what he had taught in the discourses. The following is the outline:
Introduction: birth and preparation of the Messiah (Mt 1 to 4)
a) Sermon on the Mountain: the entrance door to the Kingdom (Mt 5 to 7)
Narrative Mt 8 and 9
b) Discourse of the Mission: how to announce and diffuse the Kingdom (Mt 10)
Narrative Mt 11 and 12
c) Discourse of the Parables: the mystery of the Kingdom present in life (Mt 13)
Narrative Mt 14 to 17
d) Discourse of the Community: the new way of living together in the Kingdom (Mt 18)
Narrative 19 to 23
e) Discourse of the future coming of the Kingdom: the utopia which sustains hope (Mt 24 and 25)
Conclusion: Passion, Death and Resurrection (Mt 26 to 28).
• In today’s Gospel we will meditate on the parable of the seed. Jesus had a way of speaking so popular by means of comparisons and parables. Generally, when he finished telling a parable, he did not explain it, but used to say: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mt 11,15; 13,9.43). Sometimes he would explain the meaning to the Disciples (Mt 13,36). The parables speak of the things of life; seed, lamp, mustard seed, salt, etc. These are things that exist in daily life, for the people of that time as well as today for us. Thus, the experience that we have today of these things becomes for us a means to discover the presence of the mystery of God in our life. To speak in parables means to reveal the mystery of the Kingdom present in life.
• Matthew 13,1-3: Sitting in the boat, Jesus taught the people. As it happened in the Sermon on the Mountain (Mt 5,1-2), here also Matthew makes a brief introduction to the discourse of the Parables, describing Jesus who teaches in the boat, on the shore, and many people around him who listen. Jesus was not a person who was instructed (Jn 7,15). He had not been to a higher school in Jerusalem. He came from inside the country, from Nazareth. He was unknown, a farmer and craftsman or artisan at the same time. Without asking permission from the religious authority, he began to teach the people. People liked to listen to him. Jesus taught especially by means of parables. We have already heard some of them: fishermen of men (Mt 4,19), the salt (Mt 5,13), the lamp (Mt 5,15), the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field (Mt 6,26.28), the house constructed on the rock (Mt 7,24). And now, in chapter 13, the parables begin to have a particular meaning: they serve to reveal the mystery of the Kingdom of God present in the midst of people and the activity of Jesus.
• Matthew 13,4-8: The parable of the seed taken from the life of the farmer. At that time, it was not easy to live from farming. The land was full of stones. There was little rain, too much sun. Besides, many times, people in order to shorten the way, passed through the fields and destroyed the plants (Mt 12,1). But in spite of all that, every year, the farmer would sow and plant, with trust in the force of the seed, in the generosity of nature. The parable of the sower describes that which we all know and do: the seed thrown by the agriculturer falls on the ground along the road, another part falls among the stones and thistles; still another part falls on good earth, where, according to the quality of the land, will produce thirty, sixty and even up to one hundred. A parable is a comparison. It uses things known by the people and which are visible, to explain that the Kingdom of God is an invisible and unknown thing. The people of Galilee understood about seeds, ground, rain, sun and harvest. And so now Jesus uses exactly these things that were known to people to explain the mystery of the Kingdom.
• Matthew 13,9: He, who has ears to hear, let him listen. The expression “He, who has ears, let him listen” means: “It is this! You have heard. Now try to understand!” The way to be able to understand the parable is to search: “To try to understand!” The parable does not give everything immediately, but pushes one to think and to make one discover starting from the experience which the listeners have of the seed. It opens to creativity and to participation. It is not a doctrine which comes ready to be taught. The parable does not give water in bottles, but the source. The agriculturer who listens to the parable says: “Seed in the ground, I know what that means! But Jesus says that it has something to do with the Kingdom of God. What would that be?” And it is easy to imagine the long conversations of the people! The parable leads to listen to nature and to think of life. Once a person asked in a community: “Jesus says that we have to be salt. For what is salt good?” There was discussion and then at the end, ten different purposes that salt can have, were discovered. Then all this was applied to the life of the community and it was discovered that to be salt is difficult and demanding. The parable worked well!
4) Personal questions
• When you were a child how was catechism taught to you? How do you compare some parts of life? Do you remember some important comparison that the catechist told you? How is the catechesis today in your community?
• Sometimes we are the road side, sometimes the rock; other times the thorns or thistles, and other times good earth. What am I? What are we in our community? Which are the fruits which the Word of God is producing in my life, in my family, and in our community: thirty, sixty, one hundred?
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh in his holy temple!
Yahweh, his throne is in heaven;
his eyes watch over the world,
his gaze scrutinises the children of Adam. (Ps 11,4)