by Fr. Tommy Lane
Lord, I don’t want to be smart but did that farmer know anything about horticulture? I mean, throwing seeds on the edge of the path, throwing seeds on rock and throwing seeds among thorns, how could he expect to get a result?
My child, when I taught that parable in the boat that day with the crowds listening to me from the shore I did not intend to give them lessons in horticulture. Those people were closer to nature than you are and they didn’t need me to teach them about sowing and harvesting.
Were they surprised at the parable?
Of course. Parables are meant to surprise you because they contain something that you would not expect. A parable challenges the normal human way of thinking about life
That parable certainly provokes one’s thinking. What point were you trying to make?
Let’s work it out. Who does the sower represent?
The sower stands for God.
Precisely. The sower who is my Father or who also stands for me scatters seed all over the field even in the places where you would not expect to get a result? This is because my Father and I are generous. God does not ever give up on anybody, never.
That’s good to hear. But since it is God who is doing the sowing, admittedly a very generous sowing that we humans would not normally do, why does it not produce a better result? What type of seed are you sowing?
The seed is our Word, the Word of God. The seed is my preaching in parables during my three years public ministry, it is also my ministry to the outcasts of society in Palestine. The seed is also the Bible, the Gospels that were written about me in the years after Pentecost. The seed is the ministry of the Church, the ministry of priests and religious, preaching and Church teaching. The seed is also sown by parents when they try their best for their family and teach them by love and example and encouragement. The seed is sown by teachers when they encourage children and teach them wholesome values for life.
That is a lot of sowing. Why is there not a better result among the different types of environment?
The reason is because the Word of God is sown among human beings. The four types of environment where the seed fell stand for different people or different stages in a person’s life. My Father and I sow good seed everywhere but it is up to people to respond. We knock on the door of peoples’ hearts but we never break down the door. It is up to the person on the inside to turn the handle and allow our Word to germinate and grow.
Tell me about the seed that fell on the edge of the path and was eaten up by the birds.
These are the people who have been taught about God but have no time for God or prayer. These are the men who say they let their wives do the praying for them. These are the people who have given up on me in order to be in with their friends. These are the people who are afraid to talk to their friends about me because it is uncool to talk about God or religion now. What pain they cause me. I died for them.
I am sorry Lord. (….pause…) Lord, tell me about the seed that fell on patches of rock, found a little soil, sprang up straight away but got scorched when the sun came.
These are the people who love me at first. They are religious for a while. But when they receive a cross in life they give up on me. I said if you want to follow me you must take up your cross after me. These are the people who follow me to Calvary but will not die on the cross with me. Last Sunday I asked those who labour and are overburdened to come to me for rest. After rest I ask them to shoulder my yoke but these people will not shoulder my yoke. They want roses without thorns. There is no resurrection unless there is a cross first.
I am beginning to understand more and more why the seed of the Word of God in that parable didn’t produce an outstanding result. What about the seed that fell among thorns and was choked by the thorns.
These are the people who believe in God and unlike the first type of soil these people are not afraid to let it be seen that they pray to me. But I am not number one in their lives. Their hearts are elsewhere really. The gifts that I have given them have distracted them from me the Giver. These gifts could be the gift of money, the gift of someone close to them, the gift of success or promotion, the gift of prosperity, the gift of full health all life long, the gift of an inheritance. They are enjoying gifts from me but forgetting about Me who gave them. How easy it is for some people to become independent of me.
Lord, I see more and more how generous your sowing is. I feel like breathing a sigh of relief as I ask you tell me about the seed that fell on rich soil and produced a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
These are the people who make it all worthwhile. But don’t get me wrong, there is a harvest in everybody’s life even if it is small sometimes. But these last people are a consolation to me when I suffer because of the indifference or lack of love or faith in the other people you asked about. I said my Father and I never give up on any person. I can tell you that the other three types of soil often become rich soil as life goes on because they learn more and more what life is about, knowing, loving and serving God. They realize more and more that we are only passing through, that this life is preparing for eternal life.
Thank you Lord. The parable makes more sense now.
Good. You have asked me a lot of questions. Now its my turn to ask you. What type of soil are you? Are you the edge of the path where birds come when you have no time for me, are you a patch of rock with shallow soil that was religious but gave up when asked to carry a cross, have you got thorns that can choke my Word making you forget that the gifts you have are from me the Giver, or are you the rich soil that produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty?
Lord I think I understand the parable quite well now. We don’t need to discuss it any further.
Oh yes we do. And if you don’t want to discuss it any further aren’t you allowing the birds to come and pick the seed from the edge of the path?
I didn’t mean it like that Lord. Its just that it requires a lot of honesty to admit which type of soil I am. And being honest Lord, I would have to say that as I look back over my life I have seen some of all four types of soil in my life sometimes. There were times when you sowed the seed but it fell on the edge of the path because I thought it was uncool to be religious or I left other people to pray instead of me. There were times when I was a patch of rock with shallow soil because although I believed in you when crosses came my way I was tempted to abandon you. There were times when you sowed the seed in me and I choked it with thorns, the gifts you gave me in my life, the very blessings you gave me and I forgot about you who gave them all to me. But there were also times when you sowed seed in rich soil in my life, when your Word produced a harvest in my life. In fact I see that as I grow older the type of soil of my life changes so that I have richer soil and am more ready to listen to your Word to me and let it yield a harvest.
Thank you for letting my Word take root and germinate in your life.
Thank you Lord for your generosity in continuing to sow your Word in our lives despite the poor results we produce.
(Both together) Amen