15th Sunday of Year A
Let us prepare our hearts to receive the grace of God – in full.
Am I open to the grace of God? The grace of God comes to us in many forms – his call to us to love and be loved, to heal and be healed, to serve and be served. In the Catholic faith, we have the privilege of a personal encounter with Jesus through the Sacraments, through which His grace is poured upon us through visible signs and actions. However, for many of us, even through we may participate in the Sacraments regularly, we were not receiving God’s grace to the full.
In the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, God calls us into His love.
In the Sacrament of Eucharist, God calls us to be one in the same body with Him.
In the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick, God heals us from our brokenness.
In the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony (Marriage), God calls us to love and serve as He does.
Yet in our faith life, many of us are not living these graces of God to the full. For example, God wants to heal and forgive us. Yet as we approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are too ashamed to open our deepest and greatest sins to Him. Instead, we trivialise the Sacrament by revealing only our minor and trivial sins to God, holding on to the most serious sins in our hearts. As a result, while God wants to forgive me, I am not ready to forgive myself. Hence, even as I celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly, I continue to be imprisoned by my sins. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, God loves us so much that He wants us to become a part of Him and Him a part of us. As Jesus said in Jn 15:4, “Abide in me as I abide in you.” Yet I do not live my life consistent to that reality – I am find myself unable to love, forgive and serve in the same way Jesus does.
In the First Reading this week, God said, just as the rain from heaven does not return to heaven without first nourishing the plants, his word given to us does not return to Him without accomplishing His intended purpose (verse 10-11). My dear brothers and sisters, our Lord Jesus is the Word of God. Jesus is given to us in a tangible form each time we celebrate the Sacraments; and God promises us that His purpose will be achieved. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Sacraments as “efficacious signs of grace” (CCC 1131). Efficacious is a word that means to produce the desired or intended result.
Yet, why am I not receiving His Sacramental grace in full? I receive the Eucharist but do not live my life like Him; I receive Reconciliation but am not truly healed; I receive Matrimony but could not love as Christ does even in that one most important relationship in my life. What went wrong? In the Gospel this week, Jesus gave us the parable of the sower. Through the Sacraments, Jesus is the Word of God that comes to us like the seeds. Alas, for some of us, our hearts are like rocks. Jesus came to us but we are not prepared to open our hearts and expose all our vulnerabilities to Him. For some of us, our hearts are laden with thorns. These thorns, our pride, fame, wealth and power, choke the grace of God such that Jesus could not touch our hearts.
If I am not able to open myself to Jesus, to encounter Him; if I am putting obstacles such as His grace is not able to touch my heart; let us listen to the words of St Paul in the Second Reading. Jesus wants to set us from our “bondage to decay”, to “obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (verse 21). The pains we are experiencing are labour pains (verse 22) – they can be severe but only temporarily. It is time to prepare our hearts like rich soil, to welcome the Word of God. Let us open ourselves to be adopted as God’s children, for the grace of His redemptive love (verse 23). Amen.