Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed
4One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large
crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: 5“A
farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across
his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped
on, and the birds ate it. 6Other seed fell among rocks. It
began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of
moisture. 7Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with
it and choked out the tender plants. 8Still other seed fell on
fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a
hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had
said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should
listen and understand.” 9His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the
Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so
that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.’ 11“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing
and being saved. 13The seeds on the rocky soil represent
those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while then they fall away when they face temptation. 14The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.
Perhaps it is with age that I can now look at this parable in relation to my own faith journey. When I was a child, my parents would bring me to Mass where I would hear three readings and a Responsorial Psalm. Sadly, I have to admit, I was in my mid-thirties before I had any idea it was the Bible I was hearing. This fact eluded me throughout my entire religious education. Either it was never taught, or certainly not mentioned often enough for it to become part of my faith knowledge. Somewhere I missed the crucial point that these words are the life-giving Word of God. Just like the seeds
on the rocky path in the parable, I heard the Word, but the devil took full advantage of my ignorance, and snatched the meaning away before it could penetrate my heart. As time passed, I made attempts to grow in my faith by attending
different retreat programs. There, I was re-awakened to the things of God. Suddenly, Mass had a new energy, the readings had a new place for me as God breathed, and the homilies touched my heart, as if they were written just for me. Filled with a new desire to become closer to God, I vowed to say a daily rosary, attend Mass faithfully, and not avoid my yearly required confession. For a bit, I’d sing a little louder in church, long for my prayer time, and even subscribe to a Catholic magazine. Yet, over time, without the encouraging support of the retreat team, the consistent study of Scripture or finding quiet time for prayer—all wonderful ways to nourish a tender sprout of faith—the roots were not strengthened and it withered away again. However, this left behind an empty feeling within me; a thirst for
1 Luke 8:4-15 (New Living Translation) something more, perhaps even a longing for those euphoric feelings experienced during the days, weeks, and even months following the retreats.
As I grew older, my focus became being a wife, mother (occasional nurse, counselor, teacher), homemaker (cook, housekeeper, chauffer), as well as a plethora of assorted careers. The thorns of this world grew all around me. Any seeds dropped by priests, friends, or the occasional inspirational speaker would be choked with the weeds of daily worries, concerns, and tasks. Time spent with any “religious” reading materials—books, magazines, the Bible—would cease to exist. I hardly had enough time to read bedtime stories to my children, never mind the Bible, which I struggled to understand anyway. Prayer would consist of a quick blessing before meals (if the family was enjoying a rare meal together), or the obligatory Our Father or Hail Mary before drifting off to sleep. This was a habit I probably continued to practice only because my grandmother taught it to me as a child, and had become ingrained as a normal part of bedtime routine, more than a conscious effort to review my conscience or spend quality time with the Lord. The one thing that did remain consistent was my weekly attendance at Mass, but not because I felt spiritual growth from it. It was my insurance policy. I imagined that God put a check mark next to my name on some heavenly attendance sheet so I could be sure to be remembered at the hour of my death. At least, that is how I saw it during the spare moments I would give any thought to “things of above,” in between my kid’s music lessons, soccer games, and other activities, not to mention my board meetings, school volunteering, and social engagements. The thorns of this world were choking the tender plants, providing me little opportunity to grow in my faith.
So how do we achieve planting ourselves in good soil? For some, this cultivation is ushered in by a life-altering event. Perhaps a tragedy or trial awakens a desire to seek something beyond what this world has to offer. Possibly it is in experiencing firsthand that this life is fleeting and our paths are paved with so much suffering that our innate yearning for the Lord emerges. For others, it is a lull in life as their children grow and become more independent, or actually leave the nest. Finally able to take time for their own pursuits, they join a group at the church, or a Bible study and their journey of
learning about God and His promises begins anew. The catalysts are as varied as the people whom God created, but the one commonality is a desire for a relationship, the desire to “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”2
The soil is tilled and ready, but in order for this seed to really grow, additional effort is required. Weeds must be pulled so we can clearly see where we are drawn to, or away from, the Lord. Fertilizing the soil is critical—through reading and contemplation of the Scriptures or the daily Mass readings. Our faith is watered by increased prayer. In addition, our faith needs nurturing, which we can do by participation in the Sacraments. Sacraments are grace-filled, life-giving, and absolutely essential to the well-being of healthy spiritual gardens. I pray your soil will be well-nourished by this faith sharing, and nurtured not only by you, but also by the fellow gardeners with whom you share this time. May your faith grow deep roots and flourish in the warmth of the Son.
~ All Rights Reserved. Allison Gingras. 2013.