15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
12 July 2020
O God, who show the light of your truth to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path, give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and to strive after all that does it honour.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Readings and Commentaries
Those looking in the scriptures for a clear exposition of doctrine or a systematic moral code are doomed to be disappointed. Such an enterprise is bound to be continually subverted by the variety of traditions, points of view, and forms of literature in the Bible.
Subversion in fact is the name of the game when Jesus teaches in parables. These are short stories whose aim is to surprise. They appear to be a favourite teaching tool of Jesus. He engages his listeners’ attention with a story that is generally about familiar things such as farming practice or managing a household. But there is a twist along the way, usually at the end. Jesus uses this unexpected turn to undermine his hearers’ conventional views about “the way things are”. They are meant to provoke insight into another reality – the kingdom of heaven.
Today we begin a series of three readings from the Parable Sermon in Matthew’s gospel. First we are reminded by the prophet Isaiah of the sure power of God’s word to effect its purpose. Then Paul invites us to accept that we are caught up in an unfinished process of cosmic rebirth, but we and the whole of creation will ultimately be set free.
A reading from the book of Isaiah 55:10–11
Thus says the Lord: ‘As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’
Responsorial Psalm Ps 64:10–14
R. The seed that falls on good ground
will yield a fruitful harvest.
You care for the earth, give it water,
you fill it with riches.
Your river in heaven brims over
to provide its grain. R.
And thus you provide for the earth;
you drench its furrows,
you level it, soften it with showers,
you bless its growth. R.
You crown the year with your goodness.
Abundance flows in your steps,
in the pastures of the wilderness it flows. R.
The hills are girded with joy,
the meadows covered with flocks,
the valleys are decked with wheat,
They shout for joy, yes, they sing. R.
A reading from the letter of St Paul to the Romans 8:18–23
I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us. The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons. It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose, it was made so by God; but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God. From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 13:1–23
Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.
He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’
Almighty and all-merciful God, lover of the human race, healer of all our wounds, in whom there is no shadow of death, save us in this time of crisis; grant wisdom and courage to our leaders; watch over all medical people as they tend the sick and work for a cure; stir in us a sense of solidarity beyond all isolation; if our doors are closed, let our hearts be open. By the power of your love destroy the virus of fear, that hope may never die and the light of Easter, the triumph of life, may shine upon us and the whole world.
Through Jesus Christ, the Lord risen from the dead, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Holy Mary, health of the sick, pray for us. St Joseph, guardian of us all, pray for us. (Most Rev. Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane)
Gracious God, We give thanks anew for your providence and presence. We prayerfully seek your grace, amidst COVID-19 here and overseas. We pray for those in need of healing. We pray for your peace with those who are anxious or grieving. We pray you will continue to strengthen and sustain all those who are serving in response. We pray for your Holy Spirit’s discernment amidst the many choices and decisions facing our national, community and medical leaders. We pray we each might see quickly what more we can do to help those who are vulnerable. This prayer for our nation in the family of nations, with all that is on our hearts, we gather now and pray through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Ecumenical prayer from the National Council of Churches. We have been invited to pray this prayer at 7pm each day.)