“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.
Taking the long way home, our road trip took us through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. We passed working farms with livestock and acre after acre of growing crops. I was surprised yet consoled by the abundance over the horizon. I felt grateful for those who till the land, tend the sheep (and cattle), and labor to feed their neighbors. My heart opened to a new perspective of Jesus’ story of the sower.
Perhaps like others, when listening to Jesus’ story I typically consider the ground – the path, the rock, the thorns, and rich soil. I might be excused since this is where Jesus draws attention in his explanation of the story. Somehow, however, I have missed that the sower and seed sustain the story. Jesus speaks, “Hear then the parable of the sower” – the sower who either lacks expertise of farming or is tremendously generous with his wealth. The seed – it’s everywhere! This is what abundance looks like. This sower does not deny seed to the path, the rock, or the thorns, rather blankets the earth with seed in freedom and apparent hope.
Among the many temptations faced in today’s culture, a favorite lie is that of scarcity-an undergirding of fear that there is not enough for everyone. How does Jesus’ story shed light on the dark place of fear? I wonder what God’s generosity of seed is inviting.
—Carol Ackels is director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute in Dallas. She serves as retreat director of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius offered in various formats, and is co-author of Finding Christ in the World, a twelve week Ignatian retreat.
Jesus, who tells stories of hope
that invite and challenge us.
Give us the grace to bid farewell to fear.
Forgive us for expecting what we think we deserve
while failing to receive the abundance you give.
Seed falls in unexpected places so teach us to find you
in places we think you are not supposed to go.
Help us, dear friend, to love
As we have been loved.