There is a TV programme called ‘Your home, made Perfect’, which has become our guilty pleasure again recently. The basis of the programme is that a homeowner wants to make changes to their home, and they don’t really know what they want or what their money can buy. The show brings the homeowners together with 2 architects who listen to their needs, learn a little about their lifestyle and then each of the designers make a proposal using virtual reality devices so that the homeowners can see the designer’s vision for their home as if they were actually standing in their home. The homeowner then chooses one of the designs and changes virtual reality into actual reality.

We enjoy seeing the visions being proposed and the reactions of the homeowners when they see what is possible and, once they have chosen a design, we enjoy seeing the architect’s reaction to how their vision transforms the home. It is a feel-good programme. The programme would not have the same impact without the virtual reality technology. Imagine if this were thirty years ago and an architect trying to describe their vision using sketches and architectural drawings or models; fascinating stuff for the architect and maybe the homeowner, but pretty dull watching for any viewers.

In today’s Gospel we hear the disciples ask Jesus why He teaches in parables? Jesus’ reply is that the people ‘look without hearing and listen without hearing or understanding’. Jesus therefore tries to paint a picture for the people which they can understand or relate to. The parable chosen for today’s Gospel is the Parable of the Sower, Jesus uses this to describe how important it is to listen and absorb the Word of God so that we understand how important this is.

The Word of God is about our eternal future, it is everything. When we listen to the Word of God at Mass each Sunday, we need to give it our full attention. Ideally, we should have read it before hand, and found time to contemplate what this means for us. When Jesus said they look without seeing and listen without hearing it is like some people looking at an architect’s drawing and failing to understand the vision of the architect. Modern technology, like the parables in Jesus’ time creates a clearer picture for those to whom the message is meant.

How do I create fertile soil in my heart and my mind to listen to the Word of God?

For me, I need to clear away any distractions, I need to live in the present moment; listening and experiencing the reading for what it is. This is not just any old words put together by man to make a nice story to listen to. This is the Word of God, God speaking to us; God speaking to me. I need to work hard to clear away the distractions, especially when I am serving as a deacon. When on the Sanctuary I can get caught up with worrying if everything is in place for the rest of the Mass, or starting to think about the Gospel reading I am about to proclaim or if I have remembered to put my Homily on the lectern. All of which takes me away from being in the present and hearing what God is sharing with me. I need to put all of these concerns to the back of my mind and just listen. I try to do this by getting to church early and checking that all of the things which can distract me are done. Preparing for the Mass is also preparing myself to be rich soil; ready to receive the seeds which will grow my faith.

How do I avoid being in the rocky patches or close to the edge of the path?

By being in community with our brothers and sisters, praying several times a day, finding ways to stay close to God in my daily life. By going to confession; not allowing the accuser to nip away at our conscience, spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, by receiving the Eucharist frequently. All of these bring us graces, sustaining and growing our faith.

Jesus doesn’t deal with virtual reality. Before the beginning of time Jesus as the Word of God made everything real. Everything we can see or touch or taste or hear or smell, Jesus made them all and He made us. The reality of our lives is that Jesus loves us and wants us. He also wants us to love one another and respect every other thing which He created.

This is the time of year when traditionally schools would be issuing report cards; allowing parents to see how their children are progressing at school. If we were marking our faith journey today, what mark would we give ourselves? Are we excelling; on the fast track to heaven? I know I am not in this category. Are we too easily distracted? Are we in the category of must try harder? Wherever we see ourselves on this journey, we are called to help those around us who are struggling.

This is not a competition to be top of the class. There are many rooms in our Father’s house and we have a duty to try and fill them all. We cannot get to heaven at someone else’s expense because Jesus has already paid the price and he asks us to love one another; to serve one another using Him as our example. Today Jesus is pleading with us to not allow ourselves to be caught up in the worries of the world or lured by its riches. He wants us to be the rich soil, not allow trials to rock our faith. Jesus wants us to bear fruit and produce the harvest He expects of us. He expects us to continue sowing seeds in others so that they may bear fruit too. That is the only way to have life and have life to the full.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

CCC 546: Christ teaches through parables
CCC 1703-1709: capacity to know and correspond to the voice of God
CCC 2006-2011: God associates man in working of grace
CCC 1046-1047: creation part of the new universe
CCC 2707: the value of meditation

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation.
  • David who is preparing for priestly ordination on 22nd July.
  • The 9 families completing Baptism Preparation on Sunday 16th July.