The Sower vs. the Smartphone

User’s Guide to Sunday, July 16

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July 16 is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A). Mass Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65:10-14; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23 or 13:1-9
 
The timelessness of the Gospels is remarkable. Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel about the sower were spoken directly to those who gathered around
him — and they are almost more relevant to us in our highly technological age.
 
“As he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up,” Jesus said. God is speaking to us at all times, but our technology often steals our attention. He speaks to us in the important words our friends say that we never hear because we are looking at our phones, only half listening. He speaks to us in what our children and
grandchildren, or nephews and nieces, are saying and doing when we are busy picking a photo of them to post online instead of being fully present to them.
 
Jesus describes how the seed that fell on rocky soil “sprang up at once,” but “withered for lack of roots.” In the 21st century, we as a culture have reached new levels of superficiality
— and we are more rootless than ever. We used to read books, but now many of us only surf headlines. We used to be able to stand in line or wait outside and ponder; now we always
seem to need to be watching online videos or other media, reading notifications or listening to music or something else to fill the silence — in order to fend off boredom and, above all,
prevent silence and contemplation.
 
Last, Jesus said: “Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.” God plants seeds in us that“worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke.” So many are obsessed with the latest sports news, the latest atrocity and the craziest celebrity gossip; or looking for the next item to buy, the next gadget to try and the next app to download — and, consequently, God gets last place in many hearts and minds.
 
Jesus could easily be talking to many of us with earbuds and smartphones, Netflix and satellite car radios when he said: “Gross is the heart of this people. They will hardly hear with their ears. They have closed their eyes.”
 
He says if only they “understand with their hearts and be converted,” he will heal them. He can do that for us, too. It is just a matter of understanding the great gift we have in our
faith. The Divine Sower is doing his part — speaking his word, preparing for a fruitful harvest.
 
May we put down our phones to hear and heed his holy calling.
 
Tom Hoopes is writer in
residence at Benedictine College
in Atchison, Kansas.
He is the author of What
Pope Francis Really Said.