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. Let anyone with ears listen!” Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’
With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.
But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
It’s summer time and Midwest farms are busy. The spring-time planting and weeding now bring tasty lettuce and squash, beans and tomatoes. In many locales the corn was indeed knee high by the 4th of July.
Today’s gospel speaks of a different farmer. The majority of the seed he sows lands on a footpath, or on rocky ground or among thorns…and produces no grain at all. The surprise is that a quarter of the seed produces in abundance. Jesus wants us to know that God’s kingdom comes about in that same way: extraordinary results come in the midst of apparent failure. Is there really nothing to show for all our efforts?
Hanging in there with the hoeing and watering and weeding take quite a bit of discipline and effort. Here’s where the readings lead us deeper into the mystery of God. Even human failure will not overwhelm the power of God’s word and work to take root in the soil of our hearts. Though small and frail by cosmic standards, the human heart rises to new heights out of its very frailty when it loves, hopes, and believes. All it takes are a few seeds, a little water, and lots of love. This is indeed with the reign of God is all about. It is in the quiet of our hearts that God’s spirit truly moves and grows strong.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Lord, we claim the assurance that you desperately want us to respond to your personal invitation of love. Let us be mindful of opportunities so easy to pass over that will help us prepare the ground for your presence in our lives. We trust that you are sowing the seeds that will lead us to abundance.
How lucky are we that you spare no expense to sow seeds at all times and in all places to remind us of your very real presence. We count on you in the questions we face, the decision we must make, in the people relying on us, and in those uncertainties tugging at our spirit.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team