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Spirituality of the Readings
15th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Year A
July 16, 2023
John Foley, SJ

Yearning for God’s Goodness

The readings for this coming mid-summer Sunday reflect the beauties of the earth, its golden harvests, its astonishing Spring, its delicate birds, beasts, mountains, hills and plains. Infinite surprise for those whose eyes can see.

I must be fully myself and allow God to do the rest.

The Jesuit poet Hopkins was so filled with the world’s beauty that he can speak here, in the poem called “Pied Beauty.”

Glory be to God for dappled things—
    For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow;
        For rose-moles in all stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
    Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
        With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
             Praise him.

Some of the language is unusual, I admit. But if you spend time with these glorious images you will come to love our ever-evolving blue planet like someone bathing in the gentle tide of ocean swirl. All of it luxuriant, all of it precious.

The Lord uses this ebb and flow of seasons in the First Reading to show how his visceral love for the earth works. Just as the rain and snow come to earth, he says, so too does God’s word, which then returns to the heavens when it has done its job of watering. It does not return until it has moistened and nourished life in every single creature that will receive it. A fruitful harvest, says the Psalm.

St. Paul speaks of all creation groaning in labor pains even until now (Second Reading). Human beings too groan within themselves like seeds which break open and push their way through tough ground and then evolve into full trees that stretch up for Christ’s light.

Can such rich images apply to you and me? How good is our own soil? God pours his grace into it always. Do you and I groan and yearn for the goodness of God which is ready to be lavished upon us? Do we take time each day to let love in? Or do we listen on Sunday, perhaps with some interest, but then forget everything by Monday? Or not at all?

Jesus lists a number of things we might have to correct in order to accept the gifts he has ready for us. We might be shallow ground, he says. Or rocky soil. Weeds might choke us. How discouraging. Must I pretend to be rich soil, though I know my shallowness? No. I must be fully myself and allow God to do the rest.

That great poet from India, Tagore, put it this way:

“The cloud stood humbly in a corner of the sky.
     The morning crowned it with splendor.”

Let’s us be humble! Let’s join in the revolving refreshment of all earthly things! Open our leaves! Allow in the sun!

John Foley, SJ

Father Foley can be reached at:
Fr. John Foley, SJ

Fr. John Foley, SJ, is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.

Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go