The Parable of the Sower

Today’s Gospel from St. Luke is a parable that I always appreciate hearing – the parable of the sower. Jesus tells his disciples about the sower whose seed lands on four kinds of ground. Some fall on the path and are trampled or eaten by birds. Some fall on rocky ground and die from lack of moisture. Some fall among thorns and are ultimately choked. And finally, some fall on good soil and grow and flourish, producing “fruit a hundredfold.” Jesus explains to his disciples that the seed is the Word of God and that the first three types of soil represent different tendencies/weaknesses that prevent the Word of God from taking hold in us, whereas the rich soil represents those “who, when they have heard the word, embrace it iwth a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverence.”

We hear that and want to think that we’re the good soil – that we hear and embrace the Word of God. And, of course, sometimes we do, sometimes God’s Word gets through to us at a deep level and we do manage to live out of it. But, if we at all self-aware and honest with ourselves, we know that there are times we are more like the rocky or thorny soil, and things happen that prevent the Word from “sticking” in a way that makes a differerence in our lives.

But as I reflected on this passage again, it struck me that the lesson of the parable is also a good one for us to keep in mind regarding others as well. That is, if we are serious Christian disciples, we seek to preach God’s word in all that we say and do. And I think that sometimes we have the expectation that we ought to be effective with each person that we meet…that if we are doing our “job” well that each person who hears our preaching of the word will be affected and changed by it.

How wonderful it would be if that were the case. But it is not. Sometimes it is not the case because we just do a not particularly effective job of preaching. But sometimes, we may proclaim the Gospel really well, but it still doesn’t “take” with another person. It is good in those moments to remember that not even Jesus managed to be successful with everyone; some people walked away from his teachings. Some people’s soil is not prepared to accept the seeds we sow. I think, thought, that the lesson ultimately is: keep sowing, and let God take care of the rest.