15th Sunday in Ordinary Time A – July 10, 2011 – What Seeds Are Being Sown?
Several years ago a neighbor of mine planted some flowers. She and her husband have since moved away but every spring and summer I continue to enjoy the seemingly never ending flourish of those spectacular perennials.
Today this gospel, you noticed, contains the same message as the first reading and the psalm: if the seed falls on good ground it will yield a bountiful harvest. However, it is the second reading that raises some questions. It says all creation is groaning in labor pains and we ourselves, even though gifted by the spirit, are also groaning. What does this have to do with sowing seeds? Are we called to give birth to something new?
At a recent architects’ convention Pulitzer Prize author Tom Friedman mentioned the “grasshopper generation” (the term was coined by Kurt Andersen) — which is eating up the prosperity that was left to us. Friedman’s keynote address was sprinkled with facts and figures from his book, Hot, Flat and Crowded. 
(If your summertime reading list isn’t too full I recommend Friedman’s book for a global perspective on what might happen if the right people do not sow the right seed on the right ground.)
Friedman argues that a green revolution which will help reduce our carbon footprint can regenerate America. In one example, about our dependence on oil, he said every time we fill our gas tanks or buy products wrapped in plastic we are supporting and tolerating countries who, treat their women badly, who deprive their people of civil rights and who teach their children to be intolerant of other faiths.  Oh, how all creation is groaning!
So, do we stop driving? Probably not. Can we avoid using petroleum based products? Very hard to do. Referring to the biblical story of Noah, Friedman says, unlike Noah we are the ones who are creating the flood — today’s global economic catastrophes. We need to act responsibly, like Noah, to “create arks, not floods.” 
The passage from Isaiah this morning is understood as an analogy for what is supernatural.  Referring to the hope for a fertile and fruitful earth, the text transports us from whatever our present situation might be into a world of unimaginable possibilities. How can we sow seeds on good ground so future generations can take delight tomorrow in the flowers that we enjoy today?
I know. This interpretation of God’s Word presents a serious quandary for you and me. Yet, the second reading reminds us we are the ones filled with a holy Spirit; we are the ones called to be a new revelation of God’s presence. If we are the ones dragging down creation, which is implied in that passage,  how can we be hope for the future? The point of the gospel is that in spite of failures and indifferences the message of Jesus will win out.
What is the Spirit prompting us to do? When we leave this church today — after being nourished by community, word and Eucharist — maybe we can find some time to sit down with friends and family members, spouses and partners and ask this question. What one thing can we do this week to plant a seed that will nourish the earth for future generations. What one thing would make this increasingly hot, crowded and flat world more like the kin-dom  of God?
1 Friedman, Thomas. Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution- And How It can Renew America (New York: Picador, 2009)
2 Friedman, Ibid., 141
3 Friedman, Ibid., 181
4 Reginald H. Fuller and Daniel Westberg. Preaching the Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today. Third Edition (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2006) 154-57
5 A phrase taken from Fuller, Ibid.
6 Kin-dom is that halcyon place where all people treat the natural world and one another with care and respect.