1Cor 15:35-37,42-49 ; Ps 56:10-14; Lk 8:4-15
Because of the beautiful gift of faith those in danger because of persecution could ask the question: “What can flesh do against me?” Indeed, with them we are bound to God by the vows and thank offerings we offer to His Majesty. For the LORD has rescued us from death, and our feet from stumbling. Indeed, we walk with ever growing strength in the light of the living. We will walk with the victorious martyrs in every generation, even as we share in the glory of the resurrection. “Just has we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bare the image of the heavenly one.” The Lord Jesus confirms this Pauline insight when he writes: “But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.” Hearing the Word and embracing the Cross demands of us death, dying to our self-centered concerns and rising to become “we know not what!” All we know is that we shall be like Christ, and we shall live forever at the Right Hand of the LORD.
Those who have laid down their lives in witness of the Gospel have not been overly concerned with the details of the resurrection. Saint Paul does take time to deal with those who are hesitant to believe, or lack understanding of the faith. They have asked very practical questions: “How are the dead raised?” and “With what kind of body will they come back?” His initial response is less than politically correct or pastorally sensitive, Saint Paul writes, “You fool!” Then he goes on to use common sense and everyday experience to help those who are ignorant or weak in faith. What is sown, a tiny seed, looks nothing like the plant that rises after it dies in the soil. An acorn does not resemble an oak tree, not in the least. So, too, with the resurrection of the dead, what is sown is corruptible and what is raised is incorruptible. The mystery of death and resurrection is not explained away by Saint Paul’s teaching, but it is placed in a context that takes away initial fear. Saint Paul goes on to reflect upon the first man, Adam, and the Last Adam, Christ. We are like both. We share in the earthly life of the first man and we share in the heavenly life of the second man. The earthly comes first; it is corruptible. The heavenly comes after; it is incorruptible. This good news gave great hope to the martyrs of every nation throughout the history of the Church.
Those who embrace the word with a generous and good heart, have borne fruit through perseverance. The mystery of the Kingdom of God is set before our eyes in the witness of these courageous men and women of faith in every nation and era of history; it is also set before our eyes in the parables of the Lord Jesus. He spoke to the crowds so that they could catch a glimpse of the mystery of the Kingdom of God. Indeed, the crowds could catch a glimpse, but they could not see clearly. They could hear the parable and understand vaguely, but they could not fully understand. These images and word-icons were for the crowds, for the curious, for the masses who came to see what was happening. Crowds are fickle. One week they shout, “Hosanna,” and the next week they shout, “Crucify him!” Only a person, not a crowd, can approach the Lord Jesus and ask questions and seek relationship with him. When someone takes himself away from among the curious, then he is capable of seeing and hearing. Then he turns from the printed text and seeks the fellowship of the Word of God. Then the apostolic witness makes real and present the mystery of the Word Made Flesh and dwelling among us still, in the Church and in the Eucharist. Such is the fellowship we seek at this Liturgy so that we might bear fruit through perseverance.