O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you give us gifts and make them grow:
though our faith is small as mustard seed,
make it grow to your glory
and the flourishing of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord is my shepherd;
therefore can I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures
and leads me beside still waters.
He shall refresh my soul
and guide me in the paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me
in the presence of those who trouble me;
you have anointed my head with oil
and my cup shall be full.
Surely goodness and loving mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘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.’
Yesterday I reflected upon Jesus’ explanation of why he taught in parables rather than in direct speech. Today, we go straight into Jesus’ own explanation of the Parable of the Sower.
Jesus’ parables are like puzzles. They challenge us to take his word painting and work out the answer he wants us to find. Each parable has one correct answer and many blind alleys and irrelevant pathways which either delay and divert us, or prevent us from ever arriving at the truth.
The Parable of the Sower is a powerful challenge in its own right. It challenges us to examine where and how we are planted in a world full of rocks and thorns and worse. Then it challenges us to turn the environment we inhabit into the good soil where we will see the Word of God flourish and thrive. We are challenged, in fact, to be the seed of the good soil that will allow ‘self’ to die in order that the Word of God, that is Jesus Christ himself, might grow into the strongest, the tallest, the most powerful of plants in this world.
We all see people who are so caught up in their own worlds of self-interest that the Word of God will probably never penetrate the path they have laid all around themselves. We have all met people whose enthusiasm for the Christian message seems to be a shining example for others, that is until something difficult comes into their lives. We have all encountered people who have become so overwhelmed with the difficulties of daily life that their Christian lives have been either ‘put on hold’ or abandoned completely. And, mercifully, we have all seen those comparatively few who are totally rooted in their faith, no matter what may happen to them.
Jesus’ solution to the puzzle of the Parable of the Sower, is not one of agricultural economics. His solution is one of faith, and nothing else. His solution challenges us to become one of the totally rooted Christians whose example leads others into his nearer presence through our acts of love and service.
I hope and pray that we may all join that blessed company of faithful souls who, through our words and our deeds, brings many, many others into a true relationship with Jesus Christ, the one who died and rose again for us all.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray that the world of God shall be fertile in the Church and in the world.
Give to the Church the grace to receive the word of faith in obedience and to bring forth good fruit for the salvation of many. Take away all that hinders her witness, so that all her people may share in her ministry and work for the harvest that is to come.
Come in mercy to all who are hungry for the word but are held back by the cares of living. Rouse the indifferent and nurture those who are moving towards the Kingdom but have not yet come to full commitment. Bless the servants of your word who are bringing its healing powers to the nations.
As we share our lives with others who are close to us, help us to live as those who have heard and received the word, that we may be bearers of good news and doers of good work. May this community be as a field which the Lord has blessed.
We pray for all those in many places who are suffering from failed harvests and who struggle to cultivate infertile land. We pray for people who once believed but have fallen away through trouble and persecution: bring them back to know the richness of your love.
We give thanks for the departed whose harvest has ripened and been gathered in where new life begins. Give us grace to follow their example as we wait for our time of fruition.
We pray in the name of Christ who brings to us the good seed of the Kingdom.
Prayer for the week
Heavenly Father, whose Son taught us
that what we do for the least of his children
we do for him:
help us to see him and serve him
in the suffering peoples of the world,
and to love them for his sake,
who first loved us,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.