Parable Of The Sower
'You, therefore, are to hear the parable of the sower.
13:19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path.
13:20 The one who received it on patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy.
13:21 But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once.
13:22 The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing.
13:23 And the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.' (Matthew 13:18-23)
For me, this parable has been a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing -I couldn’t see the complete picture. I have had a quirk in my thinking when it came to absorbing what Jesus was saying: The soil that the seed fell on had no choice in its ability to give life to the seed. This perceived sense of determinism always distracted me from the fullness of the message.
As I reflected on these familiar words in my prayer time this morning, a new way of receiving them emerged –the Holy Spirit never gives up on me. I found a key to understanding it in Jesus’ initial explanation, in verse 19, in the words “was sown in his heart”. The Seed is sown in our heart, and it is what happens in our heart, which allows the Seed to accomplish its purpose, or prevents it from blooming into New Life.
If there is determinism involved, it is that our Loving Father created us to know and love him for all eternity; that he is Eternally Determined to Hope -that we will choose to receive and return his Love; that we will use our existential freedom to find our True Destiny in him, and not use it to create our own destiny apart from him. It is with this Divine Courage that God loves us, like parents sending their child off to college.
But what is this Seed that is planted in our heart? Again, verse 19 tells us that the Seed is what we have heard, and what we have heard is the Word of God –it is Truth, with a capital tee, that is inserted into our spirit as Pure Gift, as Grace; and then, our response to that Gift determines how it percolates into our mind and becomes expressed in the character we manifest.
As the condition of the soil allows the seed to germinate, so too the condition of our heart will determine the fruit we bear. If God’s Word is received with faithful obedience, then our Fiat will put flesh on that Word and it will become Incarnate in our life, and to those whom we touch. Our heart condition will determine our eternal Life or Death. Jesus relates the conditions of our heart to various conditions of soil: three of which leads to Death and one which leads to Life.
The first fatal heart condition is Not Understanding the Word. Jesus is not referring to an intellectual or theological understanding of the Word as much as knowing the Word. If we do not know the Word, who is Jesus, then we do not know Jesus. When we do not listen to the Word we hear preached; when we do not ponder his Word that leaps off the page in prayer; we remain ignorant to the Pearl of Great Price, leaving it unguarded, allowing Satan to steal it away along with our Soul –not understanding what we have lost, or that we were even in a battle.
The second fatal heart condition is Spiritual Weakness. It is lacking the roots of Church authority, of Christian community. It is falling prey to the illusion of individualism – having rejected the suffering of laying down roots, we accept with joy God’s Gifts, but when trial inevitably presents itself, we have nothing to cling to but our delusions of independence. Satan crushes our house of cards, despair and hopelessness rushes into the void.
The third fatal heart condition is Greed, the lure of riches. It is the idolatry of self, where the desire to please God is subordinate to pleasing our self. It is an insidious condition, even innocent at first -often beginning with the pursuit of things good. But like cancer, it grows imperceptibly, slowly, extending its desirous tentacles -until pleasing self chokes off the Saving Blood of Christ. The thought of repentance, at this point, is unthinkable.
The one heart condition that leads to Eternal Life is the heart that hears the Word and Understands it. It understands because this heart has made itself available to the Word, it has submitted itself to the Word and not the Word to itself. This heart understands because it has become intimate with the Word. It knows the Word as Adam knew Eve and bore a child. It knows the Word as a bridegroom knows the bride and they bear Sacred Fruit. This heart abandons itself into the Love of God, fearless, certain of The Other’s intention for Good –Joyful, for what tomorrow will bring, and willing to Endure whatever will bring tomorrow.
Holy Spirit, enlighten the eyes of my heart that I may recognize the sin in my life. Jesus, emblazon your Sacred Heart before me, may I have eyes only for you. Abba, Father, behold your child. Your Love stands me here, before you now. You called me into being; you redeemed me by the Blood of your Son; you have breathed your Word into my heart and sealed me in your Spirit. Receive me, my Lord.