When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to Jesus, he said in a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.’ As he said this, he called out, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that
“looking they may not perceive,
and listening they may not understand.”
‘Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.’
I am very privileged to live in a Rectory that has a backdrop of open countryside and fields. In those fields, each year, I watch life spring from tiny seed until it develops into a crop that can be harvested and used for the benefit of many. The farmer who manages the fields that I can see behind the Rectory knows his work. He knows not to plant the same crop each year, just as he knows that every so often there has to be a time in which the soil can recover those nutrients that make it so fertile. He also knows that not just any crop can be planted in those fields. The soil type, etc. renders it more suitable for some crops than others. And, of course, he knows the value of patience. Sowing the seeds at the wrong time, or trying to harvest too soon, will lead to failure and financial hardship.
The well-known parable of the Sower, is not about good agricultural practice or the most effective agricultural economics. Rather, it is using what I can see happening every day of the year as a way of explaining spiritual growth and wellbeing. The seed in Jesus’ parable, the Word of God, is sown everywhere. When I see the big machines scattering the seed in the fields I overlook, I see the seed being spread into every nook and cranny. As the seed tries to establish itself it will find different soil types and different moisture levels either accelerating or slowing down its progress. As I watch the seeds poking through the soil in patches I am reminded of how God’s word permeates the human mind and experience in different ways and at different speeds. As I see some areas of those fields remain bare, I can visualise some of those who have either rejected God’s word or whose enthusiasm for it has withered and died. And, as I see the crop take hold and grow and flourish, I am encouraged in my determination to never tire of sowing the seed of God’s Word wherever I go.
Whether we live in the countryside or in a town, the call to be Sowers of the Good News of Jesus Christ is for each and every one of us. Sometimes we may feel that we are wasting our time but, like the farmer who ploughs the fields behind the Rectory, we need to be patient and we need to trust God’s Word to establish itself where it will and to grow in its own good time.
Let us pray that we may never be discouraged or disheartened as we continue to sow the seed of the Good News. Let us pray that that seed might, in God’s good time, flourish and grow, and then find the way to enlarge the harvest beyond our wildest imaginings.
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