Parable of the Sower
July 23, 2021 (readings)
- Friday of the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time
- Jennifer Ristine
“Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have the words of everlasting life. Grant that I may listen and preserve your precious word in my life.
Let the Seed Be Sown: Jesus’s explanation of the parable was like an examination of conscience for our own lives. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to elucidate his word for us. Jesus spoke of many obstacles to letting the seed be sown and bear fruit. The first scenario was a seed that fell on the path; the person lacked understanding, and hence the evil one came and snatched the word away. How quick we can be to let the word of God pass in one ear and out the other. An eager disposition to listen and understand is necessary to prepare the soil of our souls. The enemy is shrewd. He desires to snatch the word of God from our midst before it reaches our heart, particularly in the reading of the Gospel at Holy Mass. As Christians, we must be “shrewd as serpents” with anticipation of welcoming God’s word so that it may be sown and take root in our hearts and minds.
The Rocky Ground: Jesus warned of the seed that was sown on rocky ground. While it may have offered much joy initially, the person’s perseverance wavered quickly at the first sight of difficulties. How does this manifest itself in our lives? Does God’s word console us in times of ease and plenty? When circumstances are unfavorable, do we reject God’s word, seeking to forge our own path rather than looking for God’s presence and hand in the crosses of daily life? A rocky ground requires tilling and preparation of the soil to prepare for deep roots to settle in. What are the rocks in our life? How can we till the soil to prepare the way for deeper faith?
From Thorns to a Rich Harvest: Jesus used the analogy of thorns to refer to the anxieties and lures of the world. A heart clinging to possessions has little room to let God reign. The thorns can grow from our desire to control all circumstances or our grasping at security in the possession of material items. St. John of the Cross speaks of giving up all in order to possess all. A bird can fly only so high as his attachments permit him. Anxieties and lures of the world represent the string that keeps the bird flying in circles but never truly free. True freedom consists in being willing to let go of all in order to cling solely to God. In clinging to God, we are set free to fly. From the heights, we are then able to see and hold all things in and through God’s eyes. Then and only then, will we “bear fruit and yield a hundredfold.”
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, open my mind and heart to your word. Help me to keep the soil of my soul always tilled and ready to receive your word. Give me right vision to live according to your will and bear fruit for your kingdom.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will ask the Holy Spirit to help me to listen to his word and let go of whatever fills the space that he should possess.
For Further Reflection: Listening to God’s Word, excerpt from Pope Francis at his weekly general audience, January 31, 2018.
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