Faithful and Fruitful

Homily at St Philip Evans for the Welsh-speaking community on the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A.

30? 60? Or 100?

When the seed in good soil had been growing for some time, the sower’s helper noted that some of the plants were not like the others. These plants were carefully dug up from where they had blossomed, and placed in a greenhouse. The helper realised that they needed to be cared for differently, and he spoke to them – in their own language! There were not many of them, but they were healthy, prizewinning specimens.

The sower was pleased to have this small collection of healthy, hardy plants. They would be admired by people for miles around. But he was also concerned. In the greenhouse, there would not be room for the plants to spread 100-fold. He longed to see his plants spread their seeds through the whole countryside. Only then would the nation be as beautiful as in his dreams.

Across Wales, there are many chapels where very small congregations meet faithfully to pray. Their faithful members wonder why their families and friends do not worship with them. Today’s parable provides part of the answer: the effort needed is too great for some. Others are distracted by work, family duties, or other priorities. Some never heard God’s voice calling them to worship in the first place. When Our Lord spoke his words to the crowd, he challenged them to overcome these temptations.

We, like members of all small congregations across Wales, are the plants which thrive in rich soil. Although we are few in number, we persevere. So first, be encouraged! God’s word has accomplished its purpose. This word has stirred up faith in you! This word has called you to faithfulness, even when that means a long drive at 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning!

But why has God given you the gift of faithfulness?

It is for your fruitfulness!

Every plant lives to bear fruit, and the fruit contains new seed.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

These fruits are seen in our everyday way of living, but especially when we step out to show love for our neighbour.

When the time is right, we are called to scatter our own seed, by speaking gently about our own experience of Christ. Only a friend of Jesus can introduce another person to him. This is what the sower longs for, above all!

We are fortunate that we are not fixed in a greenhouse, but free to travel. The sower has planted his word in each one of us so that we too can scatter his seed.

The word that goes out from my mouth shall not return to me empty; it shall accomplish my purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

So how many seeds are you called to sow? 30? 60? Or 100?

Listen, anyone who has ears!