Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A  2014

Although the dominant theme of the first and last reading is about metaphorically sowing seeds, first by Isaiah in his preaching, and secondly, by Christ in his parables, I would like to concentrate my comments today on the second reading of Paul to the Romans.

Paul begins by commenting on the sufferings of the present time. While he is referring to his own time and the persecutions and struggles of the young community, we can also accept that it means our present time on earth. I think each generation for two thousand years has had unique types of suffering in their present time from the Black Death to AIDS, from Roman martyrs to Jewish Holocaust victims. Suffering is something that has unfortunately been with us through the ages.

Paul’s comment on the sufferings we endure, however, is that no amount of suffering can compare with the glory that will come to us in the end. But we cannot know this – it is promised to us – and it must be revealed to us by faith. In other words, the sufferings we endure in our brief life spans will turn into a glorious new life, one without suffering, without fear, without death.

Glory might also refer to the revelation itself. When Paul wrote, the Gospels had not yet been written, and perhaps the Word of God, spoken by Isaiah and by Jesus in the readings today, is the glory which is coming.

In either case – the sufferings will stop. And Paul extends this idea in very universal terms. The whole of creation has been waiting for this revelation. Because of the first sin, all sorts of evil, but especially death has entered the world – we are as Paul says, in bondage to decay – and it is in turning away from God and his creation that men and women have brought this suffering into the world.  It was not in God’s plan which was for there to be the “freedom of glory” for “the children of God”.

And so we have that remarkable image of childbirth – the world in labor pains waiting for the birth of the glory of the children of God, for people to be rescued for the suffering and death that had been in command.

I don’t know how many of you have actually given birth or witnessed a birth. I remember vividly the difference between my two children’s birth. They are 5 years apart so a lot had changed in those five years.  For my oldest I was allowed in the labor room with my wife, but was kicked out just before the birth. All I saw was the pain, and I was actually quite resentful of that pain. It really bothered me for a long time. But when my second came along five years later, I was allowed to be there for the whole birth and was able to experience the pain turn into absolute joy. This is what Paul is talking about. Pain turning into joy or glory! 

Extending the image though, Paul says that while we are on earth we are still experiencing the labor pains and haven’t yet experienced the glory. Through revelation, through the teachings of Jesus, through our faith, we know that we will experience it, however. This is the good soil that Jesus talks about today. We hear the revelation, the word, and we understand it, and because of that we will bear fruit, we will give birth, we will come to glory at the end of our earthly lives.

These teachings of Paul that come from Jesus’ own words are so optimistic, so stress reducing, if we just hear them. Yes, we have to struggle in this life, our lives are filled with loss, with pain, with sorrow, with fear, with sin. But we know that God is in the process of making the world good again and we can have faith that God is true to his Word and his Vision and will complete the work.

Death for the Christian will be a freeing event – will we be born again and experience God. At the end of time, there will be no more death, no more suffering and the world will be restored to its original goodness.

What can this mean to us this week? I hope that it gives us the strength to get through difficult times. To know that our sufferings will have an end, and like pain in the birth of a child, the pain will produce something glorious. Let this sustain us in those difficult times. Eye has not seen, ear has not hear what God has prepared for those who love him, Paul has told us in Corinthians. Let that sustain us when we are down.

Let us keep the soil of our lives good and receive the hundredfold promised us.

And this is the Good News, the revelation of things to come that our reading of Paul and of the Gospel tells us today.

Bishop Ron Stephens 

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A of Bishop Ron’s homilies, 75 of them, from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

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One Response to “Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time”

  1. gabriellachatnoir Says:

    thanks for this beautiful commentary on the Sunday readings, your “understanding” of the readings, all focused on Paul is very beautiful, I propose – in Italian or in English translation, for those who know him – on my Italian blog dedicated to Saint Paul

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