“My Word Will Not Return Empty”

Missionary Weekly Reflection
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 12 July 2020
Isa. 55:10-11; Ps. 65:10abcd,10e-11,12-13,14; Rom. 8:18-23; Mat. 13:1-23 (long) or Mat. 13:1-9 (short)

The Lord is a genius Storyteller. His listeners don’t need to learn from dictionaries and books. It is enough to observe the nature and contemplate everyday events. Farmer, soil and seed are illustrations for His teaching. Although it is always titled as the Sower (v. 18), this parable actually focuses on the destiny of the seeds falling in four types of land. The meaning of this parable is explained by Jesus Himself (vv. 18-23), so it is not necessary to be specified. “Seed” is the word/preaching about the Kingdom of God, various types of land refer to the quality of the response of those who hear the preaching of God’s Word.

If the focus is on the result of the sown seeds, some points will emerge right away. First, our attention will be directed to failure. There are three short stories about failed seed, and only one successful. So, ¾ failed, only ¼ succeeded. It was considered as normal and common in the agriculture of Palestine. Second, bear in mind that the natural process of “seeds sown, growing and bearing fruit” is often used as a metaphor for the mystery and miracle of life/resurrection (cf. Cor. 1: 35-38). Third, the number of 100 times is a good harvest, but not an extraordinary one, because successful harvests often reach 400 times. The successful seed in this story is a reasonable, ordinary and normal harvest. This parable is actually arranged for the listener/reader to expect the ending of abundant results, as a symbol of God’s powerful work. But the story ends with an ordinary result, as normally happened every day on dry and rocky Palestinian land! Fourth, as said before, this parable focuses on seed, especially about the result of the sown seeds. So, in this parable three dominant elements are interrelated: failure, miracles and daily life.

For me, the message of this parable is clear enough. First, in failure and our daily life we can see God’s work! I should not look for miracles and God’s work only in extraordinary events and great results/success. Second, failure is part of the process to success. Miracle happens when I turn the failure into success, and it happens in ordinary experience in daily life. Third, in God’s kingdom which is proclaimed and realized by Jesus, failures are not first highlighted as moral norms, but they are placed within the process of harvest. The Kingdom of God does not focus on moral perfection as in the Law or abundant harvest as in apocalyptic vision, but on struggling perseverance in daily life, to turn failure into success! Fourth, the parable of the ‘seed’ is about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus (and then continued by His followers) is a simple and small reality, but yet simultaneously potential to grow and succeed. As in Jesus experience, in your and my preaching we also deal with various attitudes of the people. In spite of those failures and rejections, there will be definitely acceptance, as He promises in the first reading: “My Word will not return to Me empty…” (Isa. 55:11).

(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)


Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:
Family integrity: May the families today do not feel alone for they will always find love, appreciation and guidance that are required to keep the family united. We pray…

For Indonesian Churches intention:
Human resources: In terms of increasing human resources that is declared by the government, may Catholic educational institutions find the means in preparing the students to face the challenges in millennial era. We pray…

Special Intention:
We ask for the blessing to our people in educational sector in achieving the education of justice in every level. We pray… …


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