Matthew 13: 1-9
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!”
One of blessings of summer are the fresh vegetables and fruit that we receive in abundance. Butterbeans, corn, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, watermelon, etc. all come to our table out of the abundance of the earth and through the miraculous way that little seeds are placed in the ground and grow to become a rich harvest.
Jesus told a parable once about a sower spreading seeds. Unlike how we ourselves observe good planting methods, the sower in the parable was not careful. He throws seed everywhere. He throws it out without worrying much about where it lands and without preparing the soil. He throws seeds out with the idea that while some seed will take root, other seed will not. We read that where seed doesn’t take root, it is because the birds get it, or there are vines, or the soil is not good.
Later on in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells us the meaning of the parable. It is a story of how the Word of God takes hold in some people but not in others.
We know this to be true – that where the Word of God takes hold, we know it. Where it takes hold we see God in the world. We also hear the cries of the world, we hear the hopes of the marginalized, the dispossessed. We feel the pain of the children of the world, and we cannot ignore them. Neither can we ignore the sin of hatred and racism and their effects on the people in our community.
I have heard many people say that during this time of the pandemic, they are aware that new seeds have taken root. They have experienced God in new ways and have found a new ability to focus on what matters most. We have seen that, as with any crisis, persons become more of who they really are. Those who are bitter and angry unfortunately have become more so. Those who are caring and responsible have become more so. Those who lean upon and dwell in the Word of God have become more dependent on God than perhaps ever before.
Thomas Merton, the 20th century Trappist monk and spiritual writer, said that where the word of God takes root in us, that is where we find authenticity. He said that when we find God, we also have the best chance of finding our true selves.
Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, he said, “hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed - but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”
So there we have it. This parable is about the Gospel, about all of us finding our true selves when the seed of God’s Word takes root in us.
But it is more than that – it is also about the abundance of God. It is about God being like the sower who throws seeds everywhere, with reckless abandon. God has an abundance mentality. God is generous, even a bit reckless. God does not withhold God’s blessings, and places little if any restrictions on where God’s Word goes.
What if we really did believe that even now God is taking root among us in a greater way? What if we really did believe that we could do something new that God would have us do in our community? What if there were some ways that began small but that then yielded, as the parable says, a hundredfold?
A hymn that speaks to this is “For the Fruits of This Creation.” The verses say:
For the fruits of this creation, thanks be to God; for good gifts to every nation, thanks be to God; for the plowing, sowing, reaping, silent growth while we are sleeping, future needs in earth’s safe keeping, thanks be to God.
In the just reward of labor, God’s will is done; in the help we give our neighbor, God’s will is done; in our world-wide task of caring for the hungry and despairing, in the harvests we are sharing, God’s will is done.
May we remember today the reckless way that God gives to us, and may we respond in gratitude.May we seek to become persons where God’s Word may takes root and new growth occurs. Thanks be to God. Amen.