‘Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.’ Matt 13: 8-9.Gardening has never been more popular. Those of us fortunate enough to have our own garden, large or small, have found ourselves with plenty of time to devote to them than we might have done otherwise. The TV is full of gardening programmes too, from the challenges of looking after a large garden to how to turn your small courtyard into a vegetable patch, or even grow vegetables indoors. The possibilities are endless, it seems.
The parable of the sower reminds us that we need to sow our seed into good soil. I’ve witnessed this literally in my own garden; birds eating the seeds; seed falling in places with little soil; seed being choked by the weeds; and some producing a crop, though in my case small…a single radish and a few spinach leaves so far!
The seed being sown is the message of the kingdom. Jesus had already announced the coming of God’s Kingdom; and here it is, in Jesus, the word made flesh. Yet not all who hear will understand. The Jews were expecting God’s Kingdom, and the man Jesus might be the one who is to come, but he does not quite fit with what they were expecting. Do we have a mould we think Jesus should fit into?
The parable seems simple enough; yet underneath it is saying the Kingdom of God has not come in the form of a vast army to defeat the Romans, restore Israel and ultimately overcome the world. Rather, Jesus is talking about the kingdom being brought about by the ‘word’ going out and touching the hearts of all people. Some will hear, understand and bear fruit, while others, for different reasons, will not understand, or lose it shortly after receiving it.
This parable too teaches us to be on our guard. Not only do we have a call to be those to take the word out, to be the sowers, we must also be aware of how the seed is sown in the lives of others and in our own lives. Just as I can prepare the soil in my own garden to receive the seed, removing stones and weeds, I can also ensure the seed does not go on the path. This is equally true in our own lives; we need to remove the stones and take out the weeds. Has the seed, the word of God, been challenged, especially in these unusual times, or are we kingdom-people in whom the word is rooted deeply, to produce a crop many times that which was sown?