The beautiful persistence of the creative Word
A reflection for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
by Susan HooKong-Taylor
At my core I am a mother, an artist, and a teacher. As such, the readings for this Sunday speak to me in deep and different ways. There is love and hope in a Word that constantly goes forth, constantly sows seeds, constantly draws life forward out of that which was lifeless. This is breathtaking.
I see mercy, too, particularly in the parable of the sower. So many seeds sown, but there is only one scenario where the seed actually can take root and thrive. Here is the beautiful persistence of God – how many chances does God offer us? How many ways does he come to us, offering seeds of understanding, knowledge, and consolation without ever giving up? How do we receive it? I think of all the ways we lead and invite and instruct our children, our students. We try different avenues, different ways of getting through. We persist, out of love, out of the desire for the best for those we are teaching and guiding. My father always says, “A good parent never stops talking”. Even when met with resistance, or failure; a good parent continues to speak, continues to support, continues to help. A good teacher seeks another way, and then another in order to help her students succeed. And I think to myself, God never stops speaking to us. How beautifully and lovingly persistent is our God. God never gives up on us.
As a songwriter, I think of the process of creating a song, where there is a quiet persistence inside, a word bubbling up, a melody that haunts. It compels you to stop, or to wake from sleeping, to pick up your instrument, to give voice to that which as yet has no articulation, no real shape, but is all potential.
This process is also beautifully persistent because that word inside will not rest until it is uttered into space in some form. I wrestle with that shapeless energy inside. I write things down and cross them out. I see it for a flash of a moment, and then it is gone. I hear it, and then I struggle to capture what I have heard. But eventually, in the end, a song breaks forth, with a life of its own, listened to by many or few, interpreted in different ways, understood or misunderstood. It goes out, with the hope that it will do some good in the world. God speaks through Isaiah:
“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Once God speaks, it is done – this Word will “succeed in the thing for which I [God] sent it”.
I think of the time that we are in now, a time of challenge, division, and strife. It is a time where so much is being revealed, and we are being called to face the truths about inequities and injustices embedded into our ways of living and governing ourselves. In Romans, St. Paul writes:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19-21)
The seeds have been sown, and the Word has gone forth. God promises that the purpose for which this Word was sent forth will be accomplished. Creation is awaiting the revealing of the children of God. How will we choose to be revealed? How can we embody this beautiful, creative, loving, hopeful, and persistent Word of God? As St. Paul says, creation is awaiting each of us, as part of creation to be free of the “bondage of decay” and to reveal ourselves as lovers of truth and doers of justice. We are being sent forth to plant ourselves in such a way that we can grow and thrive, and be food for many.
God’s word is beautiful in its patience and loving kindness, persistent, in its immeasurable mercy, and all creative, in that it continually unfolds into life and more life, fulfilling its purpose without fail. In this, we have great hope.
The readings for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, are
Susan is a singer/songwriter from Toronto, Canada, as well as a teacher with the Toronto Catholic School Board. She has had the privilege of writing and performing music for World Youth Day in Toronto, most notably, the Song of the Cross, which she co-wrote with Ana Da Costa. She was happily married to Kyle Taylor+ for 24 years, and together they have two children, Evan and Julia.