“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
One of my favorite images of God is as a gardener. In Genesis we encounter a God who “planted a garden in Eden” and walked through it “at the time of the evening breeze” (2:8–3:8). This week the parable of the sower invites us to dig a little deeper.
After sharing the parable with a huge crowd, Jesus explains it to his disciples: God is the sower, the Word is the seed, and we are the different types of soil.
We’re like the footpath if we hear the Word, but fail to understand it and allow it to be snatched away. We’re like the rocky ground if we receive the Word with initial enthusiasm, but allow it to die, especially in times of trial. We’re like the thorny ground if we hear the Word, but let the cares of the world choke it out. We’re like the fertile soil if we hear the Word, understand it, and let it take root in our lives so that it bears fruit.
Pause and reflect: What kind of soil am I?
Thomas Merton teaches that God is like a gardener who uses every moment and every event to plant something of spiritual significance in our lives. Our Christian mission, then, is to be “good dirt” for the seeds of faith that God plants in our lives.
What spiritual practices help you receive the Word and grow in God’s love? How might you become a better “soul gardener”?
—Jeremy Langford, Director of Communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.
In his book New Seeds of Contemplation (Boston: Shambhala, 2003), Thomas Merton writes:
Every moment and every event of every
person’s life on earth plants something
in his or her soul. For just as the wind
carries thousands of winged seeds, so
each moment brings with it germs of
spiritual vitality that come to rest
imperceptibly in our minds and wills.
Most of these unnumbered seeds
perish and are lost, because we are not
prepared to receive them: for such
seeds as these cannot spring up
anywhere except in the good soil of
freedom, spontaneity and love
Loving and gracious God, today we ask for the grace to be good soil.
Help us allow you to grow in and through us!
—Jeremy Langford, Director of Communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.Please share the Good Word with your friends!