15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Some of Jesus parables are very easy to understand, such as the parable of the sower who sews seed on the land. Because it falls in different places, it dies, withers away, gets choked by weeds, or yields a rich harvest in good soil. In this parable Jesus likens the sower to the messenger of the Good News, the seed is the message itself and the various places it falls represent different types of people who either reject or accept it. Whilst this is one of the best-known tales of the Lord, it repays careful scrutiny because it poses several key questions for our life of faith and it enables us to look at it from another point of view.
We can see ourselves in the place of the sower, spreading the Gospel by what we do and say, disciples of Jesus in our world. Maybe we can also identify with those who hear the word of God and let it grow in their lives, but can we see ourselves in those other places where the good news of the Kingdom gets lost in translation, either by our laziness, carelessness or sinful patterns of behaviour? It took me a while to start thinking of the times in my own life when Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in me: ‘You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see’. (Mt 13:14) And to my chagrin, I found many!
So in praying over this parable my own thoughts led me to the first of the questions the Lord seems to ask, am I a good sower of the message of the Kingdom? It’s a challenge to look at the way I live out my faith. A second question is am I trying hard to discern God’s message and path in my own and others lives? What sort of grounded person am I? Am I a path that goes nowhere, full of apparent promise, but hard and unyielding? Am I like the rocky obstacles of life, finding ways to avoid making that journey into God’s word, hindering others as well? Maybe I have moments when other desires and needs overwhelm me and faith gets choked up in other things, money, power, ambition, and the selfish pursuit of pleasure?
But there’s a more important third question, we are planted in Christ, who lives in and with us, whatever we might think we grounded in the rich soil of the Spirit, can we become more open to this?
Fr Robin is an Eastern Rite Catholic Chaplain for Melkites in the UK. He is also an Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church, Oxford