In the parable of the sower, we learn a lot about the desire of God to offer to everyone to truth of the gospel. We see here a sower who sows everywhere. We could also call this the parable of the soils. So much of what we see here comes from spotlighting the condition of the soil that is receiving the seed.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Growing up in suburbia, I didn't know much about farming. My first real exposure to agriculture came while serving a parish in Manhattan, KS, the home of Kansas State University, which had one of the finest agricultural colleges in the country.
Some parishioners were faculty members at K State, so often agronomy, horticulture and other subjects often became the source of many illustrations when they taught in our religious education program. It was a wonderful learning experience for their pastor as well!
Our Lord takes full advantage of this motif on several occasions in bringing forth insights regarding our life in the Spirit. My all-time favorite - in fact, my "life verses," for lack of a better term - come from a vineyard, as Jesus teaches, "I am the vine, you are the branches."
Another powerful application is found in the Gospel parable commonly called the parable of the sower. The following passage is actually his explanation of the story:
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Hear 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." (Mt. 13:18-23)
In the parable of the sower, we learn a lot about the desire of God to offer to everyone to truth of the gospel. We see here a sower who sows everywhere.
We could also call this the parable of the soils. So much of what we see here comes from spotlighting the condition of the soil that is receiving the seed. By way of analogy, this reveals much about the condition of the human heart at the time it receives the seed of God's gospel of love.
The Generosity of the Lord
First, we need to understand that God is extravagant when it comes to offering the seeds of the Gospel to the human heart. In the parable, the sower is throwing seed everywhere, even in places where the seed has little chance to grow.
One day, one of the K State "Ag" professors and I were talking about this. "This goes against everything that we teach today," he said matter-of-factly. "When you take a serious approach to farming economy, you want the most yield from the least amount of seed. You don't waste any. This really underscores how much God loves all of us!"
How true! Even those, whose hearts are overrun with weeds and deeds, are the subject of his love! We don't have to attain a certain standard of behavior first to receive what he wants to give us.
Pope Benedict said that this parable was autobiographical for Jesus; it was how he was already living out his mission and ministry. He stated, "God does not force us to believe in him, but draws us to himself through the truth and goodness of his incarnate Son. Love, in fact, always respects freedom."
The Freedom of the Heart
Freedom is a precious gift of God. As the Catechism states: God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. "God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him."
Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts.
Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.
As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach. (CCC 1730-1732)
With our freedom, however, we do have a price to pay. Not only can we choose evil, it is the inclination of our flesh. St. Paul emphasizes this in his Epistle to the Romans, "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." (Rom. 7:23)
So we often find the garden of our heart overgrown with debris, weeds, thorns and rocks. There is little opportunity for the seed of God to grow! Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, the director the lay apostolate Crossroads Initiative, gives us a perspective on how this seed is taking root in our Catholic soils today.
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