Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time | July 12/13, 2014
This homily was written for a Mass celebrated during the summer program at Nativity Prep, a Catholic middle school for boys in Wilmington, DE. The primary audience was composed of 7th- and 8th-grade boys (Fr. Brian’s students).
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.
Are we good soil?
Isn’t this the question that the Gospel poses for each of us? Are we good soil or not? Are we bearing fruit or not?
I used to think this Gospel was that simple. I used to think that somehow people were either good soil or they weren’t. The world was divided into the faithful few and the rest of humanity.
But the more that I work with all of you, I have come to realize that I was wrong.
We are all good soil.
We are God’s chosen. We are the ones that God loves.
And yet, each of us allows our good soil to be filled with things that decrease its fruitfulness. We have rocks and thorns, birds and withered roots that make it harder to love, that make it harder to believe, that make it harder to hope.
This week, I know that I have filled my soil with the rocks of anger and the thorns of anxiety. And each of these has made it harder for me to be who God calls me to be.
It is so much harder to see God in another when you are blinded by anger or consumed by your own worries.
Each of us has our rocks and thorns. It may be homesickness or the comment that a classmate made, it could be the confrontation with a counselor or the mistakes that you still carry with you from earlier this year. It could be plain exhaustion or a poor attitude. it could be fear or loneliness. It could be the simple fact that you just don’t want to be here.
Whatever it is, your rocks and thorns hold you back from being who you are destined to be.
They prevent you from bearing good fruit.
So what do we do?
What do we do to make our soil better?
First, we need to spend time with the one who sows the seeds. We need to spend time with God. For truly, God knows exactly how to remove each stone and prune each thorn. God will patiently labor beside you to deepen your roots and dispel the birds.
Earlier this camp, one of you chose to spend about twenty minutes asking God for forgiveness for the past. For the mistakes made and the people hurt. And in that process, he and God began to remove the rocks of regret, the thorns of his past mistakes that weighed heavily upon him.
That is how you produce better soil.
But we also need to realize that taking care of our soil is going to take more that just ourselves. We are going to need each other.
Every time this week that I found myself becoming consumed with anger or anxiety, one of you would help to restore my spirits.
Through your laughs and your stories, through your genuine concern and your willingness to help.
You helped make my soil richer throughout this week.
And in turn, you are called to do so for one another.
To help people shake off the detention
To help people rebound from a rough test or a bad day.
To help your friends carry the burden of family feuds and the uncertainty of high school.
To call each other to a higher standard. To hold each other accountable.
To risk it all to stand up for the one who needs a friend, an advocate.
This is what it means to be brothers.
This is what it means to be family.
It means that we will work beside one another to remove each stone and prune each thorn until each of us has endless amounts of good soil.
This is our call, gentlemen.
Let’s go forth and be good farmers with and for one another.
May God be Praised.
Image courtesy of http://cruzblanca.org/hermanoleon/index.htm