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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Il-Ħmistax-il Ħadd taż-Żmien ta’ Matul is-Sena
Gospel MATTHEW 13:1-23 OR 13:1-9
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted, and I heal them. “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. “Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
Evanġelju Qari skond San Mattew 13, 1-23
Dakinhar Ġesù ħareġ mid-dar, mar f’xatt il-baħar u qagħad bilqiegħda hemm. U nġabru madwaru folol hekk kbar ta’ nies li kellu jitla’ fuq dgħajsa u jinżel bilqiegħda fiha; in-nies qagħdu lkoll wieqfa fuq ix-xatt, u hu beda jkellimhom fuq bosta ħwejjeġ bil-parabboli. U qalilhom: “Darba wieħed bidwi ħareġ jiżra’. Huwa u jiżra’, xi żerrigħat waqgħu mal-mogħdija, ġew l-għasafar u naqqruhom kollha. Oħrajn waqgħu f’art kollha blat, fejn ma kienx hemm wisq ħamrija, u malajr nibtu, għax il-ħamrija ma kinitx fonda; iżda mbagħad telgħet ix-xemx, u nħarqu u nixfu, għax ma kellhomx għeruq. Oħrajn waqgħu qalb ix-xewk, u x-xewk kiber magħhom u ħonoqhom. Imma oħrajn waqgħu f’art tajba, u għamlu l-frott, min mija, min sittin, u min tletin. Min għandu widnejn, ħa jisma!”. Resqu lejh id-dixxipli u staqsew: “Għaliex tkellimhom bil-parabboli?”. Hu weġibhom: “Għax lilkom ingħata li tagħrfu l-misteri tas-Saltna tas-Smewwiet, iżda lilhom dan ma kienx mogħti. Għax kull min għandu, jingħatalu, u jkollu żżejjed ukoll; iżda min ma għandux, jitteħidlu saħansitra dak li għandu. Jien għalhekk inkellimhom bil-parabboli; għax iħarsu kemm iħarsu ma jarawx, u jisimgħu kemm jisimgħu ma jifhmux. U hekk isseħħ fihom il-profezija ta’ Isaija li tgħid, “Tisimgħu kemm tisimgħu ma tifhmux, u tħarsu kemm tħarsu ma tarawx. Għax il-qalb ta’ dan il-poplu twebbset; kienu tqal biex jisimgħu b’widnejhom, u għalqu għajnejhom li ma jmorrux jaraw b’għajnejhom, u jisimgħu b’widnejhom u jifhmu b’moħħhom, u hekk ibiddlu ħajjithom u jiena nfejjaqhom”. Intom, iżda, henjin għajnejkom, għax qegħdin jaraw; henjin widnejkom, għax qegħdin jisimgħu. Tassew, ngħidilkom, li bosta profeti u nies ġusti xtaqu jaraw dak li qegħdin taraw intom u ma rawhx, u jisimgħu dak li qegħdin tisimgħu intom, u ma semgħuhx! Mela isimgħuha intom il-parabbola ta’ dak li ħareġ jiżra’. Kull min jisma’ l-kelma tas-Saltna u ma jifhimhiex, jersaq il-Ħażin u jisraqlu dak li jkun inżera’ f’qalbu: dan huwa dak li nżera’ mal-mogħdija. Dak li nżera’ f’art kollha blat huwa dak li jisma’ l-kelma u jilqagħha minnufih bil-ferħ; imma għeruq ma jkollux fih innifsu, u għalhekk ftit idum; imbagħad jiġi fuqu l-għawġ, jew isib min iħabbtu minħabba l-kelma, u malajr jitfixkel. Dak li nżera’ qalb ix-xewk huwa dak li jisma’ l-kelma iżda l-inkwiet żejjed għall-ħwejjeġ tad-dinja u l-ġibda għall-ġid tal-art joħonqulu l-kelma, li għalhekk ma tagħmilx frott. Dak imbagħad li nżera’ f’art tajba huwa dak li jisma’ l-kelma u jifhimha; u tassew hu jagħmel il-frott; dan jagħmel mija, dak sittin, u l-ieħor tletin”. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej
A God of His Word
by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap, Pontifical Household Preacher
The readings of this Sunday speaks of the word of God with two interlaced images: that of rain and of seed.
In the first reading, Isaiah compares the word of God with rain that falls from heaven and does not return without watering and helping seeds to grow. In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of the word of God as a seed that falls on different terrains and produces fruit. The word of God is seed because it generates life and rain that nourishes life, which allows the seed to grow.
When speaking of the word of God we often take for granted the most moving event of all, namely, that God speaks. The biblical God is a God who speaks!"
"Our God comes and will not be silent," says Psalm 50; God himself often repeats: "Listen, my people, I will speak" (Psalm 50:7). In this the Bible sees the clearest difference from the idols that "have mouths, but do not speak" (Psalm 115).
What meaning should we give such an anthropomorphic expression as "God said to Adam," "thus speaks the Lord," "the Lord says," "oracle of the Lord," and others like them? Obviously it is a way of speaking that is different from the human, a speaking to the ears of the heart.
God speaks the way he writes! "I will place my law within them," says the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:33). He writes on the heart and he also makes his words resonate in the heart. He says so expressly himself through the prophet Hosea, speaking of Israel as an unfaithful bride: "So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart" (Hosea 2:16).
God does not have a human mouth or breath; the prophet is his mouth, the Holy Spirit is his breath. "You will be my mouth," he himself says to his prophets. He also says "I will put my word on your lips." This is the meaning of the famous phrase "human beings moved by the Holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God" (2 Peter 1:21). The spiritual tradition of the Church has coined the expression "interior locutions" for this way of speaking addressed to the mind and heart.
And yet, it is a speaking in the true sense of the term. The creature receives a message that can be translated into human words. So alive and real is God's speaking, that the prophet recalls with precision the place, day and time that a certain word "came" to him. So concrete is the word of God that it is said it "falls" upon Israel, as if it were a stone (Isaiah 9:7). Or, as if it were bread that is eaten with pleasure: "When I found your words, I devoured them; they became my joy and the happiness of my heart," (Jeremiah 15:16).
No human voice comes to man with the depth with which the word of God comes to him. "Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart" (Hebrews 4,12). At times God's speaking is a powerful thunder that "splinters the cedars of Lebanon" (Psalm 29), at other times it seems like the "tiny whispering sound" (1 Kings 19:12). It knows all the tones of human speech.
This interior and spiritual nature of God's speaking changes radically the moment that "the word became flesh." With the coming of Christ, God also speaks with a human voice, which can be heard not only with the ears of the soul but also of the body.
As we can see, the Bible attributes immense dignity to the word. Attempts have not been lacking to change the solemn affirmation with which John begins his Gospel: "In the beginning was the word."
Goethe has his Faust say: "In the beginning, there was action," and it is interesting to see how the writer comes to this conclusion.
"I cannot give 'the word' such high value," says Faust. "Perhaps I should understand it as 'hearing,' but can hearing be what acts and creates everything? Hence one should say: 'In the beginning force existed.' But no, a sudden illumination suggested the answer to me: 'In the beginning, action existed.'"
However, these are unjustified attempts at correction. John's word or logos has all the meanings that Goethe assigns to the rest of the terms. As we see in the prologue, it is light, life and creative force.
God created man "in his image" precisely because he created him capable of speaking, of communicating and of establishing relationships. He, who has in himself from eternity one word, has created man and gifted him with the word, in order to be, not only "image" but also "likeness" of God (Genesis 1:26). It is not enough for man to speak, but he must imitate God's speaking. The content and motor of God's speaking is love.
From beginning to end, the Bible is no more than a message of the love of God for his creatures. The tones might change, from the angry to the tender, but the essence is always, and only, love. God has used the word to communicate life and truth, to instruct and console. This poses the question: What use do we make of the word? In his play "Closed Doors," Sartre has given us a striking image of what human communication can become when love is lacking.
Three persons are introduced, in brief intervals, in a room. There are no windows. The light is at its brightest and there is no possibility to turn it off. There is suffocating heat, and there is only one seat for each one. The door, of course, is closed. The bell is there but does not ring. Who are these people?
They are three dead persons, a man and two women, and the place they are in is hell. There are no mirrors, and they can only see themselves through the words of the others, which gives them the most horrible image of themselves, without any mercy, on the contrary, with irony and sarcasm.
When, after a while, their souls became naked to one another and the faults of which they were ashamed have come into the light one by one and enjoyed by the others without mercy, one of the individuals says to the other two: "Remember, the brimstone, the flames, the tortures with fire. All are stupidities. There is no need of torments: Hell is the others." Abuse of the word can transform life into a hell.
St. Paul gives Christians this golden rule in regard to words: "No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4, 29). The good word is the one that chooses the positive side of an action and a person and that, even when it corrects, does not offend. A good word is one that gives hope. A bad word is every word said without love, to wound and humiliate one's neighbour. If a bad word comes out of the lips, it will be necessary to retract it.
Not altogether correct are the verses of the Italian poet Metastasio: "Word that comes from within, is no longer worth retracting; The arrow cannot be stopped, when it has left the bow."
A word that issues from the mouth can be retracted, or at least its negative effect can be limited, by asking for forgiveness. Hence, what a gift it can be for our fellow men and what an improvement for the quality of life in the heart of the family and of society! //////// [Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]