The following was taken from the blog of Fr Vladimir Echalas, SOLT, the Word to the World.
DABAR OF GOD
15TH SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME
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Most of the parables of Jesus are based from the ordinariness of life and as such, they have very simple plots whose characters are most familiar to his hearers. Through the parables we are able to understand the realities of the Kingdom of God.
The parable of the sower is one of the seven parables in Matthew 13 which illustrates the Kingdom and its members. It tells us about the four kinds of soil receiving the seed sown by the farmer: 1) the footpath, 2) the rocky soil 3) the thorny soil and 4) the fertile soil. As an exemption, Jesus himself explained the parable at the middle of the story through an allegory. There is where we see the deeper understanding of the parable. The soil is nothing but our hearts; the seed is the Word of God and the four attitudes of receptivity.
Dabar in Hebrew is both “word” and “deed” at the same time. When God said “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), his spoken Word created the light. The rest of creation bears witness to the power of the Word who created everything when the Word was spoken by God. Our first reading today from the book of the prophet Isaiah reminds us of this reality: When God speaks, his Word is like a rain that makes the grass and flowers grow. How much more when God speaks to the human heart?
In our celebration of the Eucharist, God nourishes us with his Word and Body and Blood. The first part of the Eucharist is the Liturgy of the Word wherein we celebrate the Word of God in a little altar we call the ambo. The second part is the Liturgy of the Eucharist wherein we celebrate the Body and Blood of Jesus on the main altar of the church.
The parable becomes alive in our midst during the celebration of the Word. When the first and second readings together with the responsorial psalm are read by the lector and when the gospel is read by the priest (or deacon), we listen to the Word being proclaimed in the assembly. The words that we hear although spoken by the ministers are the Dabar of God. It is both the Word and Deed of God being sown into our hearts. It is God who is speaking to us both as a community and as an individual. That is the reason why we make a little sign of the cross on our breast before the gospel is proclaimed: to remind us to open our hearts because God is sowing His Word into our hearts at that moment.
When we hear the parable, we are asked: what kind of heart do I have in receiving the Word of God? 1) Hardened: I listen to the readings but they never sink in. 2) Superficial: Sometimes I get emotional and I feel good but that’s it. 3) Thorny: I welcome the Word but I have other more important concerns to attend to. 4)Fertile: I take the Word, let it sink in and change my life and those of others.
God continues to speak to us as we listen to His Word; it is meant to re-create us into the person that He envisions us to be.
Fr Vlad is assigned in our parish near Sydney Australia and his homilies are broadcast on Australian Catholic Radio.