Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
First reading: Isaiah 55:10-11
Responsoral Psalm: 65:10-14
Second reading: Romans 8:18-23
Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23
By Jeff Hedglen
It seems as though every time I turn on the news another horrible event has occurred. One day it is war in Afghanistan or elsewhere, another day it is one more EF5 tornado tearing through one or more states, another day it is mighty rivers cresting from an overabundance of rain or wild fires because of too little.
These are the big stories that make the national news. But daily, in much less-noticed corners of the world, there is bullying and peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, hunger and neglect, and drug and human trafficking.
ust when I am about to be overwhelmed, I read St. Paul’s message for us this week: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” I find it hard to take comfort in these words because I am afraid they somehow lessen the circumstances of all those suffering in today’s world. Yet, I know Paul is speaking from a firsthand knowledge of suffering while still holding out hope in faith.
Paul himself had been shipwrecked and imprisoned, and he lived in a time of extreme persecution of the church by the Romans, yet even in the face of such hardship and fear he found a reason to hope.
He was living the message Jesus gives us in the Gospel: “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.” He knew that the seed of faith had been planted in his willing heart and thus the fruit it was bearing and would continue to bear would outweigh his current sufferings.
The mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus tells us that whatever suffering comes our way is not the end of the journey; it is but a pathway to the glory of God. This does not diminish the suffering experienced, and it does not take the pain away, but it does give us a reason to hope, for while we groan here on earth, we await our redemption in eternity.
As people of faith, how do we face times of extreme suffering and unexplainable tragedy? How have you navigated the hard times in your own life?