How does your garden grow?
I’ve been trying to get some grass to grow to fill in the (large) gaps in our lawn. This is caused by a) dogs trampling, b) too much hot sun, c) too much deep shade, or d) I have no idea.
I don’t think Jesus had a suburban yard to worry about, but he did know something about planting seed and wondering if it would take root and grow. And he knew our relationship with God is a bit like that: sometimes a struggle, sometimes a lovely emergence of green grass – or better yet, something useful like wheat – something that can feed us and our neighbors.
The story of the sower who scatters seed - some on the path, some on the rocks, some in the thorns, and some in good earth - connects our spiritual lives with the common, earthy realities of living and eating. Notice what a chancy operation this is – much of the seed bears nothing – but some of it bears a great deal – a hundredfold! It all seems very inefficient – a cardinal sin in today’s economy. But that’s how Jesus describes it.
This parable of Jesus is one of a few where the Gospel writer provides an “interpretation” – an explanation which treats the parable as an allegory. It’s quite doubtful that Jesus provided this (who explains his own jokes?). But in this case, it’s worth a look. The seed of the parable is the “word of the kingdom” of God. It’s the Gospel, the Good News, we need to hear. Many things can get in the way of this “word” taking root in us: the evil one can snatch it away, or we can lack sufficient “root” to nourish it when things get tough. The “thorns” represent the cares of the world and the lure of wealth: they choke the word. But when the seed lands in good soil, wonderful things happen.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds a lot like my spiritual life! So many things get in the way of my being open and receptive to God. But now and then, a ray of light shines through and I know I am loved, blessed, and energized for life. It’s the most inefficient process…but that’s the way it is. JBM