I’d like to ask the children to help me with my homily today. If you are under the age of 12, would you please stand up? Now raise your hand high so I can see you. Thank you.

Now, with a show of hands, how many of you have heard of Dipper and Mabel Pines? What TV show are they from? Yes, Gravity Falls.

How about Sponge Bob Square Pants? What is the name of his pet snail? Yes, Gary. Where does he live? Right, in a pineapple.

Last one. Who has ever watched Sesame Street? Who can name one character? Awesome!

Thank you so much. Please sit down.

Like Sesame Street, today’s homily is brought to you by the letter “S”.

S is for sower, seed and soil. I want to focus on the soil, but a few words about the sower and the seed.

Such large crowds are coming to Jesus that he had to get into a boat in order to teach them. Why? As Bishop Barron says, because there is a hunger in the human heart, a hunger for truth, beauty and goodness. There is a hunger, placed there by God, for meaning and purpose that ultimately only God can fill. We ignore it to the detriment of our very humanity.

Now to the sower. The sower sows seed so lavishly that it falls all over the place, even where he knows that it might get snatched up by birds or trampled under foot by passers by or choked by weeds and thorns.

That how and who God is – lavish in showering grace. Grace is love freely given. God loves lavishly even when love is not given in return. According to Sacred Scripture that is who God is. We are called to imitate God the sower and be lavish with our love.

The seed, as our first reading from the prophet Isaiah tells us, is God’s word and is meant to be effective.

Aren’t seeds amazing? They come in all shapes and sizes. They are so small and seemingly insignificant and yet when planted, watered and cared for, they grow and bear fruit that feed and nourish us. Good seed, in good soil multiplies itself amazingly, so that there is enough to eat and enough for new sowing – and on and on it goes.

Sower, seed and soil.

The soil is our soul – our mind, our heart, our very being, our whole selves. This is where God’s grace, God’s love, God’s Word lands.

If the soil of our soul is hardened and closed off to the seed of God’s love, then the birds of the air – with names like selfishness, pleasure, indifference, pornography, power, lust, money, indifference etc., etc., etc. swoop down and eat us alive.

If the soil of our soul is shallow such as when we only come to Mass occasionally and don’t pray with our family or never read the bible, then the sprouted seed of our baptism withers quickly in the heat of today’s “selfie” culture.

If the soil of our soul is rocky and filled with the thorns of habitual sin, of over-indulgence, of stinginess, of judgementalism, of lies and alternate facts, of convenience, of controlling others and grasping for power, of violence, of addiction, of whatever it is that chokes the life out of God’s grace, God’s love, God’s Word – then there may be some show of faith like stalks and leaves, but little real fruit that nourishes.

But good soil, filled with nutrients and watered and receiving enough sunlight will germinate the seed of God’s life and produce abundantly.

So allow me, who is not much of a real farmer but I hope a much better spiritual farmer, give you some spiritual farming hints that will hopefully enrich the soil of your soul and that of those around you. Here are my SGGs: Spiritual Gardening Guidelines.

  1. 5 and 5: pray daily, alone and with your spouse and your children. Consciously connect with God daily.
  1. M.A.S.S.: Make All Sundays Sacred. Don’t miss Sunday Mass. It is a sin do to so and endangers your entire harvest – eternal life.
  1. Bless: with the sign of the cross +. Bless your children and your spouse every morning and before you go to bed at night.
  1. A paragraph a day: read at least one paragraph of the Gospel each day. Allow God’s word to settle into your mind and then sink into your soul. Meet Jesus in his words and his actions.
  1. Adoration: commit to one hour a week for the rest of the summer and see what happens. If you are consistent and open to being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, I’ll almost guarantee you’ll want to continue to commit for the rest of the year.
  1. Confession: at least four times a year or even better, once a month. It will keep the weeds of sin from growing too tall and choking you.
  1. FORMED: such an awesome website. The parish code is in the bulletin. There are blogs, articles, books and movies that will enrich your faith so that you can bring forth a great harvest.
  1. Spiritual Reading: lives of the saints, great authors and church teaching.
  1. Stewardship: of your time in prayer, your talents in service to help others, your treasure in your weekly giving and participating in our Faithraising Campaign, the pink envelopes.
  1. Dynamic Catholic: Matthew Kelly’s effort to give resources to become the vest version of yourself, to be who God has fashioned you to be, not what society or peers or who/whatever the world defines you to be.
  1. SPSE – St. Paul Street Evangelization: see the folks after Mass about ways to share your faith, to be disciple and to have the tools you need to be a spiritual farmer for the souls of others.
  1. “Healing the Whole Person” retreat Aug. 17-19. This is an incredible opportunity to deepen your spiritual life and enrich the soil of your soul.
  1. Lastly, turn off, log off, shut down from our devices and electronics for a while each day and turn on, long on and open up to human interaction, eye to eye contact, listening to what the other is saying and seeking to respond from the heart of Christ.

That’s more than enough for now. Next week we’ll hear some more parables of Jesus about the mystery of the Kingdom of God. Have a blessed week. Let’s stand and pray our Creed.