This Sunday’s Gospel is about the Parable of the sower which, by the image of the seed scattered in different types of soil, talks about the way we receive God’s word and also what this word accomplishes in our lives. Do you have any idea, what type of ground are you? We can treat this parable of the sower from various perspectives. Here, I propose just two.
Bible readings Isaiah 55: 10-11 Psalm 65: 10-14 Romans 8: 18-23 Matthew 13: 1-23
From grounds viewpoint
We can look at the parable of the sower from the viewpoint of the different types of grounds where the seeds are scattered. Some seeds fall on the pathway and they are eaten by birds because they are exposed. Others fall on rocky ground where they have no chance of pushing deep their roots, and still other seeds fall on thorny ground where the plants are chocked as they grow up. Finally, we have some seed that have fallen into rich soil where they grow and produce some fruit.
Here are highlighted some obstacles that the word of God faces in our lives. Nevertheless, despite all that, the word does not go to waste for there’s also some good soil in us where it grows and bears fruit.
Indeed, it’s a reality that we struggle to welcome the word of God in our lives. However, if we just end at this perspective, highlighting our struggles, we risk missing the Good News. The pertinent question is: what’s the Good News that Jesus is announcing through this parable of the sower?
If we just stop at the different qualities of the ground we risk turning the parable into a moral lesson. At the end of it the parable becomes a moral whip that we use to accuse ourselves, and others, for not welcoming well the word of God. Of course, difficulties are there. But I wonder, is that what Jesus intends to communicate? That’s why I propose to consider another perspective in the hope of unearthing the Good News in this parable.
From the perspective of the sower
When we look at this parable from the perspective of the sower, immediately we see how wasteful he is. I can’t resist thinking of him as a clumsy farmer who has not yet mastered how to handle his seeds in an economic and efficient way. Or is he just so careless that he minds not where his seeds fall? In fact, it’s not by hazard that he broadcasts the seeds everywhere –it’s intentional. The sower chooses to scatter his seeds without choosing the ground. What does that mean?
If we take God as sower, then, here we are talking about his bounty. It’s the sign of generosity and trust which, to our capitalist and judgemental eyes, may appear uneconomical and wasteful. God does not have a prior judgement on how one is going to receive his word. And so, he gives every person equal opportunity, no matter his situation, the grace of the transforming power of his word. That’s what the First Reading is affirming.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout… 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.”
So, what’s the point?
Certainly, there’s no use boxing yourself, or others, in a certain quality of soil. You are not pathway, rocky, thorny or fertile; you are none of a single one of them –but a mixture. At times God’s word does not have even the chance to germinate before it’s eaten up by parasites of your life. Other times your heart becomes hardened and unreceptive so much that God’s word can’t just take root. But there are also moments of euphoria when you welcome God’s word like love-at-first-sight; it germinates but only to be choked by challenges that come along on the course of growth. So what’s the point?
It means we just cannot claim for ourselves any quality of fertility. And if even if it were actually the quality of our soil then, certainly, it would not be our merit. It’s God’s word that makes us fecund. So let’s watch against putting on ourselves the ticket of fertile soil or an impossible rocky ground. Rather, let’s count on the generosity and trust of God who rains indiscriminately his word on all of us. It’s his word that is capable of transforming our rocky and thorny hearts into fertile soil that can produce fruit. Hence, our part is only opening ourselves to welcome this word.
What’s the good news?
No matter what type of ground you are, God does not judge you. He believes in what you can become –he gives you a chance. That’s why he scatters it generously even onto pavements, rocky and thorny grounds. Of course, not all of it will bear fruit and not all of it will go to waste either. That’s the Good News of this parable of the sower: the bountiful God believes in what you can become tomorrow despite what you are today.
This parable of the sower makes me think of parents who may be doing their best to bring up their children into responsible adults. But there are times when they lose hope and energy to continue because it just appears like they are scattering the seed on the pavement.
I carry in my thoughts and prayer such parents, and many others who may be experiencing similar discouragement; may this parable of the lavish sower be a source of encouragement to them.
And for all of us, whatever our situation, let’s keep live the hope of some harvest tomorrow!
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