On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” NABRE
In this Scripture passage Jesus, the sower, goes about tossing seeds. In the commentaries, there is some discussion about this odd way of sowing. Some say that farming practices during this time included sowing first and plowing second. In other words, the sower word scatter the seed and then plow it into the ground. Others agree that this was a standard practice, but do not believe that this was the picture of Jesus was trying to paint.
While I always enjoy hearing what the scholars think, I find their focus here curious. The fact is, Jesus stood on boats, on mountains, and the like while releasing his words, and his actions are perfectly reflected in this description of the sower.
As discussed last week, Matthew’s Gospel is intent on addressing concerns of his predominantly Jewish audience. The fact was that most of the Jews listening to the good news refused to accept it. So again, we find Matthew assuring his Jewish audience that they are the rich seeds with bountiful harvest. He again explained to them that some people are not open to his words.
Matthew’s Gospel also speaks to us. There are parts of the Gospel we want to hear, and parts that we don’t. It is wonderful to hear the words of eternal life and of a loving and merciful God. Only the people who think they are the most unworthy people alive would fail to embrace the beauty and comfort contained in these words. But what about when he talks about the narrow path and cross carrying? What about the times he tells us how we are likely to be rejected and shunned because we follow him? Isn’t it likely that we are each and every type of soil described in this parable? Isn’t it likely that we all need to spend some time learning to hear more clearly?
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit reflecting on your acceptance of the Gospel. Which aspects do you more readily embrace than others? What about the areas with which you struggle the most? Where do you see the fruit of his harvest and where is the fruit lacking? Spend some time with the Holy Spirit asking him to help you be more open to the parts of his messages that are more difficult to accept. Spend some time praising God and thanking him for allowing you to hear, and asking him to help you hear more thoroughly.
Ms. Debra D. Weldon, O.P., JD, MTS