A challenging perspective on the Parable of the Sower, Mt. 13: 1-23.
We all know the parable of the sower who, when he casts his seeds, some fall on the footpath, some in rocky soil, still some others amongst the thorns, and some on good, rich soil. This story appears in Matthew 13: 1-23. Its message is as pointed to us today as it was when Jesus taught it two thousand years ago, maybe even more so.
As we know, the sower is Jesus, the seeds are the word of God. We are the “soil” into which God’s word is sown. The question is, “Are we that rich soil that when the word is sown upon us, will “yield a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown?” Or are we, like so many in this present age, too desultory, too distracted, or too easily tempted by this world’s false and finite promises to become the rich soil the Lord desires us to be?
In verse 18 we see these words, “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means.” The key word here is “Listen.” The difficult art, or virtue of listening is not well practiced today. Why? Because it is hard work. It is the product of both humility and the wisdom to know that one does not “know” everything. To become the rich soil that will produce a hundredfold, one must be ready first to “listen,” that is, to listen with your whole being. This is the “sweat work” that is necessary for us to come to know anything. We have to attend to what is being said. We have to be wide awake and focused.
This virtue is not valued in this present age so filled with noisy, often shrill, caterwauling that is proudly presented as “free speech.” In truth, our time is just another variant of the ancient Greek tragedies, where hubris, a kind of pride that is blinded by ignorance, holds sway. Like the chained prisoners held captive by their ignorance in Plato’s allegory of the Cave, those who hold fast to the various finite and fickle social and political ideologies of this age are merely staring at shadows and naming them the truth. As Helen Keller once said, “We see things not as they are; we see them as we are.” The undesired result is that we are living in a hell of our own making. We are crushed by fears (the footpath), too shallow to let anything take root (rocky soil), and we are often distracted to the point of paralysis (growing among thorns).
How do we learn to “listen” in a world so full of noise, the clamor and tumult of narcissistic demands, and the siren songs of immediate gratification? In order to become the kind of soil that is deep enough and rich enough to accept the word of God and to produce a hundred fold in faith, we must find the time, the solitude, and the silence to be able to truly “listen” and to “hear” the Word of God that is being sown freely among us in every moment. Daily prayer is the water that moistens the soil of our faith, the scriptures are the seeds being sown into us, and when we honor the sabbath by attending religious services regularly, we place ourselves in the sunshine of grace that we need in order to become the rich soil of faith. We must develop the habits of humility, fortitude and courage. Why? Because everything in the world militates against our becoming rich soil.SKM: below-content placeholder