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Engaging the Word: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah compares the word of God to rain which changes dry land into fertile soil. God’s word brings change. Encountering God means not being satisfied with where we are but, instead, passionately desiring deeper conversion to a more God-like life. There is no standing still in the spiritual life; as Pope St. Gregory the Great wrote, when it come to our life of faith, “one who does not advance, retreats.”

Of course, meaningful change never comes easy. In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul compares the process of redemption to “groaning in labor pains.” The birth of a child is one of life’s most joyful moments—but it is also a difficult, even painful moment. Growth in the spiritual life also involves struggle and sacrifice.

In the Gospel Jesus warns that many people will turn away from the sacrifices involved in conversion: some will refuse to listen to the Gospel; others will hear but drift away or become distracted with other things. Only a minority will allow the word of God to take root in their hearts. But the life in store for those who remain faithful to God’s word will be far richer (a hundred times better!) than what we can imagine.

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