15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Sunday, July 16, 2017
Fr. Jon
Homily transcription: 

     This week I received an email with a link to an article written by a college professor, in which he gave four bits of advice to new college students.  Since I am about to meet several hundreds of them, I thought I should read it.  His first piece of advice was this:  Choose your friends wisely.  That would have made my top four list as well.

     We like to think that we are our own person, and independent of outside influences.  Yet notice how we tend to wear similar clothes, except for people like me who have no fashion sense.  The colors and styles tend to change every two years for the students, and I can't wait to see what this fall will bring.  My fashion style tends to change about every two decades.  But we follow the crowd more than we like to admit, and not in terms of fashion, but also morality and faith.  So, choose your friends wisely.

     The readings today use images we in Iowa can relate to.  The prophet Isaiah in the first reading says that just as the rain falls on the earth so it can bear good fruit, so does God's Word fall on us, accomplishing the purpose for which it is sent.  But the Gospel adds a twist to this.  This does not happen automatically, it is more complex, and requires our active participation.  In the Gospel, the image is not rain but seeds, and the message is how different types of soil can be obstacles to the growth of the seed.

     Our job is simply to be good soil.  God is the sower, and his Word is the seed.  So he does the heavy lifting in the drama of salvation.  Yet we have a crucial role to play in the growth of the seed.

     Jesus lists obstacles that keep the seed from growing.  You just heard them so I won't repeat them.  However since all day today is the Sabbath, perhaps each of us could spend some time reading this Gospel.  God's Word needs time and silence to be about to soak in and make a difference in our lives.  Use this image to ask the Lord to show us what kind of soil we are, and what might be keeping God from doing something amazing in our lives.

     Being good soil is also our communal mission.  This is especially true of families, where the real action of the Church takes place.  But it also true of our parish.

     This week we have Totus Tuus in our parish.  Four young people are with us, and they are spending their summer going from parish to parish in our archdiocese.  We thank them for doing this while their peers are doing other things, perhaps making more money this summer.  We pray that your time with us will help make St. Thomas Aquinas good soil for our children and young people.

     In a few weeks, several hundreds of ISU students will walk through our doors.  We have an important role to be good soil for them.  This is not a burden but a privilege.  I thank you for all the ways you actively reach out to our student parishioners throughout the year.  It is a beautiful thing to see.

     I am able to speak with many parents and alumni, and one thing I know is that what happens here matters.  Many tell me that their time in our pews and in our midst shapes their vision for their lives.  It is awesome to see them go out to every corner of the world and bear good fruit 30, 60 and even 100 fold.

     The advice of the college professor to new college students is to choose your friends wisely.  They are often the soil that determines how much our lives will bear good fruit.

     The same is true for old people like me.  Choose to be around good, unselfish, faith-filled people, and it makes all the difference.  

     May our Eucharist and our community make us good soil for each other.