In the first reading from Isaiah, the theology of Thomas Aquinas kept coming to mind. Aquinas held that our origin was from God, but that our destiny is also from God. Our lives are spent learning who we are as beings made in the image and likeness of God so that we may be authentic to who we are and be able to achieve our end, God. The life of the Christian is spent seeking to unite mind and heart to God so that we recognize His call in our lives and seek to respond to the one who loves us and created us.
The Lord says through the prophet “…so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” Isn’t this how the life of conversion goes? Certainly, it is easy to see the foreshadowing for Christ in these verses. The “Word made flesh” was sent by God, lived out the task given to Him by the Father and returned to Him at the Ascension. Those who have been baptized are called to be “other Christ’s” in the world. We too are entrusted by a task by the Father (our vocation) and are called to return to Him.
This week Paul takes on the issue of suffering. While the second reading doesn’t always connect itself to the first reading, there is a connection here. The process of conversion referred to in the first reading isn’t always a walk in the park. There is some trial and suffering as we refocus our hearts and minds from ourselves and seek to look outside ourselves for God. The “groaning” referenced in these verses from Romans reminds us that the entire creation is in the process of “becoming”. It’s funny, that in reflecting on this I thought of the physics. I remember watching a show on PBS and the point was made that an aspect of the Big Bang theory is that everything, including time, is moving away from the moment of the big bang. Again, Aquinas also comes to mind. He speaks of the “First Mover”, the one that started everything. Perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that the scientist credited with formulating the Big Bang Theory was Fr. George Lamaitre.
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary noted that for St. Paul, suffering as the transition to the glory that has been promised by God. This transition only moves us towards an outcome with God when we open ourselves to His graces. Paul is calling us to keep the Lord’s promise alive in our hearts and not to lose faith for what the Lord has in store for us is beyond what we can know. Origen stated: “There is nothing which is worthy of comparison with the future glory. For how can what is mortal be compared to what is immortal, what is visible to what is invisible, what is temporal to what is eternal or what is perishable to what is everlasting?”
The Gospel this week has a short form, which is the one we will focus on. Jesus used parables as means of encouraging his listeners not just to hear what he had to way, but to think, to take responsibility for the faith that he was sharing with them. Daniel Harrington,SJ compares the sower to God. In the parable He is simply giving the knowledge and the call. It is up to those who receive it to nurture it and to live it to the reality of their lives and time.