Last Sunday Jesus said; ‘all you who are over burden come and I will give you rest’; today He defines His readiness to fulfill all his promises to His people such that His divine Oracle of blessings to His people is to be fulfilled. I can hear the sick reminding God to fulfill his covenant with the sick as in James 5;13-15, Ex. 23;25, ‘from your body I will remove sickness’. I can also hear sinners calling on God’s word in Isaiah 1;18 “though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool’. I can also hear those suffering persecution challenging God today with God’s word in Mtth. 5;11; “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. The childless woman today reminds God His word in Ex. 23;26 ‘”There shall be no more miscarriage or barrenness in your land’. My dear people of God these words are fulfilled as you listen if only you have strong faith in Jesus today.
Today Jesus tells us one of the commonest stories in Palestine. In Palestine there are two ways of sowing seeds: ordinary human broadcasting method and the ass back broadcaster. The first is a more familiar method to our environment while the second is an uncommon lazy method whereupon a sack of seed is put on the back of an ass cutting a hole at the corner of the sack while walking the animal up and down the field as the seeds are scattered. One can imagine how careless and unintelligent the ass was and therefore understand how difficult it was for it to do a good job in seed broadcasting. Little wonder the popular slangs referring to ass are highly offensive and degrading referring to ass as an unintelligent, foolish and stupid creature- kiss ass, haul ass e.t.c. More so because of the careless broadcasting of seed tied to the buttocks of the ass; people derogatorily and offensively refer to buttocks as ass when wrongly used. Farmlands were cultivated as long strips of ridges and there use to be a long path way between the ridges which are always beaten as hard as possible by the feet of passersby. It was in this popular field that a sower went to sow his seeds. 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.
To the question by His Disciples, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ Jesus answered, ‘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…..’ Here Jesus comes to prove that to the man who believes every simple explanation aids understanding and to him who doesn’t believe every explanation is meaningless. The presence of the Scribes and Pharisees who come to hear Jesus speak warranted His use of parables. These people weren’t coming to hear Him so as to be converted rather that they may hear Him and condemn Him. Seeing them among His audience, Jesus usually used parables to teach such that they may listen but may not understand the message of Christ’s preaching. They rather enjoy the oratory and the sweet stories instead of the hidden meaning of the Gospel message because they don’t believe in Him.
There are some who hear these truths and they do not understand them because they have become worldly minded. They have set aside what is spiritual for the worldly. This group actually refers to the Pharisees and Scribes. In such cases, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in their hearts; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground. Palestine was characteristically decorated with lime stone. On the areas with greater concentration of limestone, the earth is only a few inches coat before the rock. Here the seed would certainly germinate very quickly because the ground is warm with the direct heat of the sun. Since there isn’t enough soil for thrusting its root and gaining nourishment from the earth, it withers as it meets only the rock and can’t withstand the heat of the sun. These are those who hear the truth and who immediately receive it with joy. Not pursuing their spiritual growth, they have no root. They only endure for awhile. When trouble or persecution arises because of controversies over the Word of God, the Church, marriage and divorce or even abortion and other serious moral issues they immediately fall away and become indifferent and lukewarm. Their response to spiritual issues is that they used to be very faithful when Frs. Kettle and Bottle were their parish priests or that. 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. As for what was sown on good soil, these are the ones who hear the word and understand it. They loved the Word of God and grew in their faith until such time as they could walk alone. They understood the secrets of the Kingdom of God persevered in their living faith and hope in the likeness of Jesus Christ. These Christians shined in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. They produced much charity for the glory of God. Their entire lives were lives of spiritual growth, bearing fruit after fruit. To them belongs the Kingdom of God (Mt. 13:1-23).
The Parable of the Sower likens the teaching of God’s word to the sowing of seeds. The seeds fall on different types of soil, the pathway soil, the rocky soil, the thorny soil, and the good soil. Each of these types of soil is said to represent a certain type of heart with which hearers receive the word of God. The question each of us must ask ourselves today is, “What type of soil for the word of God do I represent? Am I like the pathway where the seed cannot even sprout, or like the rocky ground where the seed sprouts but has no roots, or like thorny ground where the word of God is choked to death by worldly cares, or like the good soil that bears much fruit? Remember the Scribes and Pharisees because of whom this parable was used belong the first group of listeners since they had already excluded themselves by locking up their hearts from repentance. Remember to him who doesn’t believe no explanation is convincing.
Paul’s comment on the sufferings we endure, however, is that no amount of suffering can compare with the glory that will come to us in the end. In other words, the sufferings we endure in our brief life spans will turn into a glorious new life, one without suffering, without fear, without death. It therefore means that we don’t allow the sufferings of earth make the seed of faith sown in us not bear fruit. May it please the Lord to fulfill all His promises to us as we profess with today’s Gospel that the Lord’s words never return until they are fulfilled. May his promise of healing be our share especially in this tormenting time of covid-19. Amen!
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