Homily, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A.

Why Does the Word of God not Enter our Lives?

The Seed is the Word of God, and the Sower is Christ; all who find him will abide forever.

On a Sunday, the Parish Priest who was the celebrant read the gospel and the people sat to hear his homily. Instead they witnessed the strangest incident ever seen.

The Priest opened his shaving kit and began to shave his beard. The people were dumb struck, there was pin drop silence. After 10 minutes, the normal time of a Sunday homily, the priest continued the Mass with the Offertory rite. The Mass went on as usual and the people went home shocked.

The following Sunday the faithful gathered for the Sunday worship and the parish priest was the celebrant. Now the gospel was being read and the people sat to see what is going to happen. Whether he is going to shave his beard or his head.


The priest began to speak to them. My dear people, last Sunday, I only used my time fruitfully, instead of preaching which I considered a mere waste of time I began to shave. But I am surprised to see the reactions from different quarters of our people.

My Bishop rang up and enquired whether I am keeping well. My sister and brother-in-law have already arrived from our native place to enquire about my wellbeing. The Legion of Mary members have started the chain Rosary; the Charismatic Group has sat in 24 hours adoration. The Parish Pastoral Council had a secret meeting as to how to go about this case. The Youth Group has consulted the mental hospital for an admission for me. Some of the media persons have been invited to capture ‘live’ what is going to happen this Sunday at the altar.

My dear friends, Sunday after Sunday, the seed, the Word of God, is sown from this place. But it doesn’t seem to bear fruit. It appears that all the seeds fall on the path or on rocks or choked by thorns.

If only all of you used 10% of your energy that you used for last Sunday’s incident, our parish would have been rejuvenated and our lives would have become great!

The people went home never to forget the parable of the Seed and the Sower!

sower's hand with wheat seeds throwing to field
sower’s hand with wheat seeds throwing to field

My dear people of God, I am neither going to shave my beard nor my hair, but the truth remains the same: many times it seems to me that the word of God preached from this hallowed pulpit is a waste of time like the priest said. But I must ask these questions:

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Why is the Gospel so slow in entering our hearts? Why is the Word of God which in itself is alive and active(Heb. 4:12-13), not active in our lives? Why do we not bear any fruit after hearing all the word from the social media, street evangelism, market evangelism, different communities around forming churches and societies? Why is the word not being accomplished in our lives?

The Readings of today addresses this very question that surrounds the difficulty in spreading, accepting and implementing the Word such that if we truly need to bear fruit with the word being accomplished in our lives, we must look into these questions.

In the first reading Isaiah 55:10-11, the Word of God is likened to the the rain that brings life when it falls on the soil. We are the soil. The Word bears fruit which is called seed for the sower and gives bread to the eater. The seed and the bread are the results of the Word. The seed represents the spiritual benefits while the bread represents the material benefits. Bread is produced from seeds of wheat or barley. This means that the Word of God if accepted by us the soil results into spiritual and material benefits. This is exactly what Jesus the sower requires from us; seeds/fruits first.

However, in the gospel reading Matthew 13:1-23, Jesus brought out two categories of people; the first hears the word of God but bears no fruit with reason, while the second hears the same word and bore fruit with reason. This shows the importance of breaking and hearing the the word of God.

•Those that didn’t bear fruit: Here, there are three kinds of people:

a) Those that lack Understanding: The first heard the word but didn’t understand it and they are the seeds that fell on the pathways. These people hear the word every day but they never seek understanding, they are people of routine and laissez faire spirituality because they don’t care. They neither ask questions, nor struggle to know more, they are confused, they don’t like stressing themselves to acquire knowledge about their faith as far as everything is going well with them, and any effort to make them know more sometimes seems irritating to them. Even when they read the Word, they turn the meaning upside down etc. They don’t have spiritual director. And for them, coming to Sunday mass is enough for them.

Nevertheless, It is always easy for them to fall way when temptation or evil comes because of lack of understanding and ignorance. So, understanding is first if the word must bear fruit.

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b) Shallow rooted Word: These seed fell on rocky ground with no much soil. These are those who had understanding and even knowledge of the word but are shallow. They are not shallow due to lack of understanding but lack of implementation because they either lack the faith to believe or because they don’t pray inorder to have the grace to implement the word. This means that it’s one thing to know the Word but it’s another thing to do the word. St. James always admonishes that we should be doers and not just hearers, otherwise is self deception (James 1:22). By implication, understanding is not enough for one needs faith and prayer to be rooted in the Word in to bear fruit. This is why in the midst of tribulation or persecution, they give up and show their shallowness. Understanding, faith and prayer brings about rootedness.

C) Those that are too attached to the world: This is the seed that fall on the thorns . The thorns are the cares and delights of the world. If one has understanding, faith , prayer life, the next thing he or she must avoid is too much attachment to the things of the world otherwise just like thorns, a person who is filled with the understanding, faith and garnished with prayer life thus, a spiritual giant and full of the gifts of the Holy Spirit can still fall to the ground if he is too attached to money, wealth, fame, pride, etc. This is one of the reasons one sees known and vibrant servants of God who know and understand the Word with faith and prayer, yet fail in their spiritual duties. If you think that you are spiritually standing, you can still fall because of this kind of attachment and become spiritually barren (1 Cor 10:12). Therefore, to succeed in the Word, one must use the things of the world in a way of service without attachment.

Lack of understanding and ignorance, lack of faith and prayer life which causes shallowness, and attachment to material things create difficulty for the Word to enter our lives, bearing Fruit.

This just shows the difficulty surrounding the sowing of God’s word. The second reading Romans 8:18-23 talks about this difficulty as time of pain, not of death but merely the beginning of new life. It’s this new life that the word and it’s sowing brings through Jesus the sower, which the second reading calls redemption. This is the difficulty the priest in the story had been encountering till the very dramatic Sunday of beard shaving.

What then does Jesus want from us with regard to the Words he sows on the soil which is our lives?

Bearing Fruit:

Jesus wants us to have understanding, rootedness in the word with faith and prayer, and avoid too much attachment to the things of the world. However, understanding is the first. In doing so,we could be in the second group of those who bear much fruit. He wants us to become good soil by producing fruits in their hundreds, sixties and thirties. These fruit are signs of his kingdom our lives which includes righteousness, repentance, charity, peace, kindness, truth, which in turn bring in material benefits, yes.

With this, the word of God accomplishes what it’s meant for and prospers in the things it was sent for. We must always remember that the Word of God can’t be destroyed but remains till it is understood, rooted into with faith and prayer.

Therefore, God is never late in our lives, because He is always there knocking the word, but some respond so late or never because of lack of understanding, lack of faith and prayer life and too much worldly attachment. We only need to open up ourselves in understanding, faith and prayer, avoiding too much attachment to worldliness.

Every Sunday and everytime we hear the Word, it’s Jesus who is sowing the word. May we then be like the priest’s congregation who never forgot the parable of the seed and the sower.

©Fr. Henry Charles Umelechi

Truth Series



•Launching Pad; Stories for Sunday Homilies Year -A,B &

C by Sagayanathan

•Celebrating the Word, Year A by Fernando Armellini

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