Parable of the Sower
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
In my family, we are looking forward to celebrating my mom’s 75th (diamond) birthday celebration in September. As I was writing this reflection, I came across a very relatable and funny story:
Four brothers left home for college and became successful doctors and lawyers. Some years later, they had a reunion. They chatted after having dinner together. They discussed the gifts they had been able to give their elderly mother who lived in a faraway city and decided to open their mother’s thank you letter to each. The first said, "I had a big house built for Mama." The second said, "I had a hundred-thousand-dollar theater built in the house." The third said, "I had a Mercedes dealer deliver an SL600 to her." The fourth said, "You know how Mama loved reading the Bible, and you know she can't read anymore because she can't see very well? Well, I met a preacher who told me about a parrot that can recite the entire Bible. It took twenty preachers 12 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $100,000 to the church, but it was worth it. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it." The other brothers were impressed.
Who do you think gave the best gift among the brothers? Let's keep that question going. This Sunday’s Gospel speaks about a parable where God sowed seeds or as described in the story earlier, sowed “gifts” to His people. Let me draw your attention to three elements of the parable we could ponder upon. The three S's if you may:
1. The SOWER, who is God Himself. God loves us so deeply that He will do everything in His power to lead us back to Him that we may be able to fulfill our purpose in life. In so doing, he scatters the seed to us that we may be able to “know” what His will is for us. Interestingly, the word “knowing” in the Bible essentially implies certain intimacy, which is also present in married life. Therefore, as God scatters the seed, he aims at establishing a relationship that is built from that knowledge. Question is, how much knowledge do we have about God? Does our knowledge of God give us enough confidence as to say that we know Him so deeply?
Bruce Larson tells about a young African woman who came to the U.S. from Angola. Her name was Maria and she was always laughing. One day she went to a meeting on evangelism in her church where they were talking about pamphlets, missions, campaigns, and all the rest. At one point, someone turned to Maria and said, “What do they do in your Church in Angola, Maria?” “In my Church,” said Maria, after a moment’s thought, “we don’t give pamphlets to people or have missions. We just send one or two Christian families to live in a village. And when people see what Christians are like, then they want to be Christians themselves.” [To Dance (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1972), p. 58]
I believe that the best knowledge we have of God is mirrored through our actions. It is not enough to learn and know about Jesus through Theological study (though this may also be necessary). Jesus’ life must be seen mirrored through our actions and that is when, as the story narrates, they would want to be Christians themselves.
2. The SEED, which is the WORD of GOD. The word of God wraps up the story of the chosen people from of old down to the present time. It is the story that continues to take place up until today as Jesus continues to inspire us with His word. It may be a surprise to some of us but the basic function of every Christian and that includes the priests, is not to attend Mass or celebrate the Sacraments but rather, to preach the Word of God. It is our basic duty to make the LOVE of God known to mankind. As the “seeds” have been scattered to us, we are expected to make them grow and share it with other people.
3. The SOIL, which stands for the way we RECEIVE the word of God. There is that Thomistic principle which says, “Quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur” or “Whatever is received into something is received according to the condition of the receiver.” In other words, our nature is determined by the way we receive things. Jesus clearly defines in this parable that to be a true Christian (our nature) or to be a true follower of His, one has to accept His WORD wholeheartedly, that is, to be a good soil in order that the seed may grow productively.
Handling the Confirmation program of this parish for quite some time now, the catechists and I have spent so much time figuring out a way in order that the word of God would sink into the teenagers’ hearts. But as we spent so much time on that, we realized that it is not just the content nor the methodology that matters, but rather, the very disposition of our teenagers to receive the word of God. With the catechists alone, we cannot expect things to succeed in terms of catechizing them. Parents have a crucial role in this regard. Being the “first catechists,” it is the parents’ duty not only to teach children the truths of the Catholic faith. More importantly, it is their duty to give them an environment in the family where they could see “faith in action” so as to dispose them to receive God’s word with an open heart! Given today’s pandemic, all the more reason that the parents are to step up their game in exercising this sublime task given to them since baptism.
Now, let us go back to the story about the four brothers. Who do you think gave the BEST gift among them?
Remember the thank you letters that their mother sent to each one of them? Here's the content of the letters:
Mama wrote: "Milton, the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway." "Michael, you gave me an expensive theater with Dolby sound, it could hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead, I've lost my hearing and I'm nearly blind. I'll never use it. Thank you for the gesture just the same." "Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay at home and I have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes. The thought was good. Thanks." “Dearest Gerald”, she wrote to her fourth son. “You have the good sense to know what your mother likes. I cooked the chicken you sent. It was absolutely delicious!”
Read the parable of the sower once again and reflect on it more carefully. Remember the three elements: 1. The SOWER, who is God who loves us so dearly; 2. The SEED, which is the Word of God which continues to inspire each one of us through preaching and example; and 3. The SOIL, which stands for our disposition to receive the word of God. As you remember these elements and see clearly where God sows seeds in your life, make sure to note how you reacted or received the sower’s “gifts” to you. However, you reacted or received them is key to how deep your relationship with Jesus is.
Centuries have passed since Jesus narrated this parable to His disciples, and yet the message is still very relevant today even in the midst of the pandemic. Jesus challenges us today to put to good use those seeds that He has implanted in our hearts since our baptism. We have to unleash the power of the word not only by listening to them and taking them in, but most importantly, by mirroring their messages through our witnessing. Through His Word, we can overcome the challenges of this pandemic. Through His Word, we can become the best version of ourselves. Through His Word, we can love in the same way that Jesus loves us.
gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on December 08, 2020:
I am fascinated by this parsble. It's timeless one thank you giopski.
giopski (author) from Oakland, California on July 09, 2011:
Thanks too gabsdoc!
giopski (author) from Oakland, California on July 09, 2011:
Thanks gabsdoc, I greatly appreciate it. To many of us, as we hear this parable so often, we tend not to see its significance. But as we dig deeper into it, we come to understand how rich this parable is to all of us especially that the modern world is full of distractions and useless worries.