1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear."
Meditation: Are you hungry for God's word? Matthew tells
us that Jesus taught many things to those who came to listen and
learn. Jesus' teaching method was a very simple one. He used
parables - short stories and images taken from everyday life to
convey hidden truths about the kingdom of God. Like a skillful
artist, Jesus painted evocative pictures with short and simple
words. A good image can speak more loudly and clearly than many
words. Jesus used the ordinary everyday images of life and nature
to point to another order of reality - hidden, yet visible to
those who had "eyes to see" and "ears to hear". Jesus communicated
with pictures and stories, vivid illustrations which captured the
imaginations of his audience more powerfully than an abstract
presentation could. His parables are like buried treasure waiting
to be discovered (Matthew
Sowing seeds that take root and grow
What does the parable about seeds and roots say to us about the kingdom of God? Any farmer will attest to the importance of good soil for supplying nutrients for growth. And how does a plant get the necessary food and water it needs except by its roots? The Scriptures frequently use the image of fruit-bearing plants or trees to convey the principle of spiritual life and death. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8; see also Psalm 1:3).
The shut mind and prejudiced hearer
Jesus' parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God's word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to what he or she doesn't want to hear. Then there is the shallow hearer. He or she fails to think things out or think them through; they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional reaction; but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else.
Too busy and preoccupied to listen
Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is for ever too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate on God's word. He or she may work so hard that they are too tired to even think of anything else but their work. Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it. Do you hunger for God's word?
1 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!
2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!
3 Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
5 For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
17 O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Shallow and rootless minds, by Cyril of Alexandria (375-444 AD)
"Let us look, as from a broader perspective, at what it means to
be on the road. In a way, every road is hardened and foolish on
account of the fact that it lies beneath everyone's feet. No kind
of seed finds there enough depth of soil for a covering. Instead,
it lies on the surface and is ready to be snatched up by the birds
that come by. Therefore those who have in themselves a mind
hardened and, as it were, packed tight do not receive the divine
seed but become a well-trodden way for the unclean spirits. These
are what is here meant by 'the birds of the heaven.' But 'heaven'
we understand to mean this air, in which the spirits of wickedness
move about, by whom, again, the good seed is snatched up and
destroyed. Then what are those upon the rock? They are those
people who do not take much care of the faith they have in
themselves. They have not set their minds to understand the
touchstone of the mystery [of communion with Christ]. The
reverence these people have toward God is shallow and rootless. It
is in times of ease and fair weather that they practice
Christianity, when it involves none of the painful trials of
winter. They will not preserve their faith in this way, if in
times of tumultuous persecution their soul is not prepared for the
struggle." (Excerpt from FRAGMENT 168)