Each of the elements of the Parable of the Sower are worthy of meditation and reflection. A very good practice would be to take some time to reflect on each aspect and ask what limits the germination and growth of the seeds God has sown in our lives, and also what helps us to bring about successful growth and a successful yield. When did we experience God’s word but have it almost immediately snatched away; when did we gain an insight, experience joy from his word and guidance, but did not in any way put the learning into practice; how many times have trials, hardship, and lack of courage or outright persecution, robbed us of stretching out of our comfort zone, and we withdrew, not wanting to risk growth?
Many of us can relate to: “Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit” (Mk 4:18-19). Distractions pull at us from within and without, from one second to the next. So much seeks to undo us, tear us down, and drive us into states of anxiety, despondency, cynicism, and depression. So many apparent goods and false truths entice us to feed our desires for power, wealth, fame, and pleasure. Material temptations offer promises of fulfillment but shortly after purchase leave us feeling empty. All the while, there is also so much good that needs to be done, so much work to do, even if we are willing to look beyond ourselves to be of help, we aren’t even sure how to serve or where to begin.
A lesson that Jesus offers us in the Parable of the Sower is that the outcome of a seed sown is that it will grow to be a mature plant that bears fruit. To bear fruit we need to create rich soil. This means breaking into hard ground, the hardness of our heart, prejudgments, and pride, by spending time with people who we determine as other and keep at arm’s length. We also need to be willing to face our fear of rejection or misunderstanding. In engaging a person with understanding and respect instead of an idea of who someone is, we can begin to diffuse false judgments, prejudices, and fears.
When experiencing an insight it is helpful to embrace it, resist the distractions and mind noise that arise that attempt to steal it away, and encourage us to rush on to the next project or event. Meditate on the inspiration, let it take root, and put it into practice. God may be giving us a message through these encounters. When conflict, tribulations, temptations, and anxieties arise, may we prune and uproot these weeds of distraction and distortion.
We often react from a defensive posture, or give in to our immediate impulses, when instead we need to inhale deeply, discern each thought, situation, purchase, and action, pray and seek God’s guidance, rely on trusted family, friends, colleagues, and classmates for guidance. Recall how similar past experiences turned out and resist making any rash or reactive decisions. Ultimately, trust that Jesus is present. Regarding service, start small, apply the same points just mentioned and engage in reaching out in your own small way, but with, confidence, focus and intention.
These are just a few ideas to start to uproot weeds and thorns, begin to remove some rocks and soften the earth, and enjoy the process of preparing some rich soil – our heart, mind, and soul to receive the seed of the love of God that he sows, which is Jesus his Son. In time, as we surrender more to his will, continue to be nourished by his word, accept and put into practice his word, and trust in him and not the temptations that entice, distract, and disrupt our growth, we will see sprouts begin to grow, and soon mature plants that will “bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold” (Mk 4:20).
Photo: Class of 2017 models of creating rich soil!