Jesus expressed in his parable of the sower the ways in which we lose the germination opportunity or coming to bear fruit of the seed that has been sown. The devil “comes and takes away the word from their heart that they may not believe or be saved.” This can be observed with those who fixate on mere scientism or empiricism, and so denounce any spiritual or transcendental experience as a coincidence, or dismissed as offering no empirical substance, no proof, thus explaining away any trace of spirit.
Others “receive the word with joy but have no root.” Some encounter God, experience deep emotion and connection in the moment, but once the emotion wanes, once the pleasure experienced ends, they move onto other pursuits, other experiences. Still others receive for a time God’s word, come to a place of germination and even sprouting, experience new growth, but “are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit.”
Each of us at different times fall prey to each of the above examples Jesus offers in his parable from today’s Gospel. Are minds and hearts can be closed, we can be distracted, we are busy, we seek merely accomplishing and moving on to the next activity or item on the list, anxieties and fears can keep us caught in indecisiveness, we are lured by temptations and apparent goods, but if we ever want to experience mature fruit, we must “embrace [the word] with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”
Do we read a book just to get done, do we go to church just to say we went, do we visit or call relatives, friends, to say we have accomplished our duty, do we go to work or school just to get to Friday? To be fully alive we need to be present in the experience of what we are doing, we need to embrace a mindfulness and deeper experience of what we do. To do that we need to slow down a bit more and breathe. Then maybe we can read and hear, so to come to understand and put into practice what has been presented to us. This is true for good fiction as well as non-fiction, and poetry. This is even truer when we are reading the Bible. We need to meditate and contemplate, not just read a passage, close the cover and move on as if nothing ever happened.
When we go to church, in person or online, may we absorb one or two lessons, from a prayer, a hymn, the word, or preaching, that we can take with us and think about and apply in the coming week. In this way, when we leave we are not just leaving, but going forth to proclaim the Gospel in our lives. When we communicate and visit with friends and family, may we be present, and open to their needs, willing to hear their stories, their experiences. May we also be willing to be present to those friends and family we have not yet met and in the past have just walked by or over. In our work, our dedication to school as a student, our entry into retirement, let us resist the attitude of just getting through the day and instead seek meaning in what we do. Let us embrace the joy of the gift of life we have been given.
May we actually stop this Saturday, take some deep breathes, be still and know that God is present, waiting for us to do so. Allow him to speak to us in the depths of our hearts. Maybe by doing so, we might be a little more present and mindful throughout the course and events of today. Maybe we will be a bit more aware of the seeds, God’s Word, that he has sown in our lives. When we are, may we nurture them, be patient with the process of germination and growth, and fertilize them with our perseverance and discipline of prayer, worship, service, this coming week and the weeks to follow.
From this simple beginning of a little quiet rest with God, the roots of our relationship with him will have an opportunity to go deeper and take a firmer hold in our lives. Soon we will begin to experience the first sprouting, buds, then maturing fruits of love, patience, goodness and kindness to harvest from those seeds God has sown in our lives!
Photo: Mature strawberries from our picking them with Christy in California during our 2014 visit.