The readings speak of God's word, meaning the impulses he showers on us, urging to do what is right and to see what is true.

Sunday, 7/13/14

The readings today are about the word of God. By that they do mot mean the words of the Bible, which can be called the word of God. Rather, by his word they refer to the impulses God is constantly sending us. They are impulses that urge us to do the right thing, and they are impulses that open our minds to the truth. The old catechism name for such impulses was Actual Graces.

The Gospel describes four different ways in which we respond to God’s impulses. At times, like a hard-beaten path, our hearts have too much going on to attend to God’s impulses. At times, like the shallow layer of earth over the rock, we enthusiastically hear the word, then forget it by doing nothing to let it take root. At time our vices and addictions squeeze out any healthy impulses. But, thankfully, we cherish God’s word, letting it have bounteous effects in our lives.  

The second reading speaks of how there are costs in responding well to God’s word. It brings on suffering in this time, but such suffering is nothing in comparison to the great rewards that come from paying heed to God’s word.

The first reading is a favorite with many people. Where the Gospel compares God’s word to the seed the sower went out to sow, this reading from Isaiah is more forceful and beautiful. God showers us with impulses towards doing what is right and towards understanding what is right. And these impulses, these actual graces, are as plentiful as the rain drops. Even tohugh you and I don’t respond to God’s promptings, he keeps on prompting until he gets someone to do his work.

In teaching the Seventh Grade each year, in coming to this Chapter 55 of Isaiah, I’d hold up a dollar bill, saying it would go to the first person who could memorize this passage. But, where our Lectionary gives us only verses 10 and 11, I had them start back at verse 8. The whole thing goes like this:

8. For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor or your ways my ways, says the Lord.

9.As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways,
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

10. For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down,
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to him who sows
and bread to him who eats,

11. So shall my word be
that goes forth from, my mouth;
it shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will.
Achieving the end for which I sent it.

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