We should cultivate the earth of our heart - Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > We should cultivate the earth of our heart - Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

The Lord began his public ministry with the words, “repent and believe”. Here is a call for response to the coming of the Lord and his message. This response – repent and believe - remains a constant in the life of each of us as disciples of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

We are conscious that in order to live the Christian life we are always in need of repentance. We are not there yet. We stray constantly from the way of Christ, and we know that we must return to the right path. We have a heart which can say readily without hesitation, “Be merciful to me a sinner.”

We also know that the quality of our personal faith needs constant attention. We are seduced by the world around us and we so easily fall into worldly ways. We know that St Paul is right when he urges us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  (Rom 12:2)

We are so easily weakened in our spiritual vision, and think as our culture thinks. We lose our trust in God and openness to His will and His ways.

John Cassian, a fourth century monk from southern France, wrote on the Christian life and had a significant influence in shaping monasticism in the Western Church, influencing among others, St Benedict.

Writing about the Christian life he says this, “Thus at every moment we should cultivate the earth of our heart with the gospel plough – that is, with the continual remembering of the Lord’s cross.”

He describes the human heart as a field that is to be ploughed. In other words, the soil of the soul must be broken open so that the seed and the water necessary for its growth will penetrate the hard exterior.

No doubt those of us who have travelled around the state have seen many fields after the winter ploughing. They are being readied for the spring growth. Even in the cold of winter the soil is being readied. The seeds are planted and the winter rains nourish the capacity for the seeds to produce their crops for summer.

This, Cassian argues, is what the Christian needs to do. Here his teaching reflects the Gospel parable which we have just read and the words of Isaiah in the first reading.

Let us consider for a moment the ploughing process. The crust of the earth becomes hard. The metal plough, these days attached to a tractor, is placed on the earth and then its sharp edge begins to penetrate the soul. The shape of the plough is such that the soil is not only broken open but it is turned and exposed to the elements. There is a long furrow dug. We see the long lines of the furrow crossing the field.

The soil below the surface is now exposed and is able to receive the seed and the water. It has ceased to be the hard crust of soil that will not receive the seed, causing the seed to die.

Thus, it is to be with our hearts. They become hardened, trampled on by the cares of life. Our hearts need to be broken open in order for the life-giving seed and nourishing rains to penetrate them.

The means for this is to daily repent and believe.

We allow the seed – the truth - of God’s word to rest not on the surface but in the depths of the heart. We enable the waters of the Holy Spirit to come upon us to nourish what God has planted with us.

Jesus began his parable with the simple words: “Imagine a sower going out to sow.” Today, let us imagine the farmer ploughing his fields in order to plant the winter crops, ready to receive the winter rains.

Then let us hear the words of John Cassian: “Thus at every moment we should cultivate the earth of our heart with the gospel plough – that is, with the continual remembering of the Lord’s cross.”

Archbishop Julian Porteous

Saturday, July 11, 2020

To view a recording of the Mass, click here