Each of the elements of the Parable of the Sower is 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 instead 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 so much good that needs to be done and so much work to do. Even if we are willing to look beyond ourselves to be of help, we may not even be sure how to serve or where to begin.
Jesus offers us in the Parable of the Sower his promise that the seed sown in rich soil will grow to be a mature plant that bears much fruit. To bear fruit we need to be attentive to making rich soil. This means breaking into hard ground such as the hardness of our hearts, prejudgments, and pride by spending time and being present with not only those close to us but also with people who we keep at arm’s length. We also need to be willing to face our fear of rejection and be willing to encounter a person with understanding and respect instead of preconceived notions, then we can begin to diffuse false judgments, prejudices, and fears.
We often react from a defensive posture or give in to our immediate impulses, when instead we need to be more mindful. We do so when we take a moment to inhale deeply, discern each thought, situation, purchase, and action, to pray and seek God’s guidance, and to rely on trusted family, friends, colleagues, and classmates for guidance. We can learn from past experiences and resist making any rash or reactive decisions. Regarding service, it is best to start small, apply the same points just mentioned, and engage in reaching out in our own small ways, but with, intention, confidence, and persistence.
These are just a few ideas that can help us start to uproot weeds and overgrowth, to begin to remove rocks and soften the earth, and enjoy the process of preparing some rich soil – our heart, mind, and soul – to better receive and nurture 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 it into practice, 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!