On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”(Matthew 13: 1-9)
Jesus is inspiring us to take a soil sample of our hearts, to help determine how we receive and respond to him, to all that he teaches us, and to all that he seeks to do in our life.
Why is the “condition” of our hearts so important?
The key to this parable is to realize who the Sower is. We are the Sower. We are the Sower because we are trying to make things grow.
What are we trying to make grow? Any good thing, any noble purpose, or mission or goal which we have in life. We try to make our marriage grow, to make it more life giving. We try to make our children grow so that they become responsible, caring adults. We try to make our work productive to benefit others. We try to build a better world, being more conscious of the weak and the marginalized, protecting the environment, supporting the dignity of every human being.
Whatever good thing we try to do, whether it is personal or interpersonal or international, we are the Sower trying to make things grow.
And here is where the parable is particularly valuable. It describes sowing and what a Sower needs to do.
Number one to remember that losses are not the same as failure. Number two: faithfulness is more important than success.
Every time we undertake a good effort we need to remember that losses are not the same as failure. In any good effort there will be losses, and some of them will be great. It will be like the seed that falls on the pathway and is eaten up or the seed which flourishes for a while and then withers away. A marriage will come to an end. A close friend will die. A great plan will unravel. A dream will fade.
All of these losses are a part of life. None of these losses mean that life is without hope or that we should give up. For all the losses, for all the seed that does not grow, other seed falls on good ground and begins to produce grain. A new relationship blossoms. An old friend reenters our life. Life takes a turn and suddenly we are blessed in a way that we had not been expecting. Losses are not the same as failure because for all the seed that does not grow other seed lands on good ground, puts down root, and produces the harvest.
This leads to the second lesson: faithfulness is more important than success. Because we are not in control of which seed grows and which seed does not, because we cannot determine where each seed will fall, it is of utmost importance that we keep sowing the seed.
We must not stop throwing the seed on the ground. We need to do this even when it seems that our teenager will never listen, or our parents will never understand. We need to do this even when it seems our family will never be reconciled or we will never find forgiveness. We need to keep doing this even when the unborn will not be protected, the poor will not be fed, the environment will not be respected. In spite of all this lack of success, we must keep sowing seeds of peace, reconciliation, justice, and love. Many of those seeds will not grow, but the few which fall on good soil will produce the harvest. Only God can bring about the harvest, but that harvest cannot happen unless we keep sowing good seed on the earth.
The parable of the Sower then gives us direction in any good effort we undertake. It tells us not to be paralyzed by our losses, but keep sowing the seed of God’s love in our lives. Ultimately this parable is a parable about freedom, because it tells us we can never change the heart of another person. We do not have the power to establish God’s kingdom. Therefore, our only responsibility is faithfulness.
When we stand before the king on the last day, we will know the one question which he will ask us. Christ will not ask us: “Why did you not change the heart of that person; Why did you not reconcile your family; Why did you not establish justice in the world?” The one question Christ will ask us is this: “Did you keep sowing the seed?”
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, faith in your word is the way to wisdom, and to ponder your divine plan is to grow in the truth. Open my eyes to your deeds, and my ears to the sound of your call, that I may understand your will for my life and live according to it.”
Instead of lamenting about all the things in our life that did not happen, this parable calls us to rejoice in the things that did happen—in the goals we were able to achieve, in the hopes that we were able to realize, in the relationships that still support us to this day. They are God’s gifts to us. There might be many of our hopes and dreams that did not materialize, but the ones that did are enough to provide a bountiful harvest, a rich life.