Our Gospel for today deals with the parable of the sower, the seed and various types of terrain.
Let’s begin by considering the sower. The sower represents God. The sower’s most significant act is that he scatters the seeds far and wide. He is not stingy with his scattering. The seeds land everywhere!
At first glance, this strange sowing seems like foolish behavior and irresponsible farming. Upon closer examination, this detail tells us something very important about the action of God in our lives.
God is present among us. He is at work in our lives with an enthusiastic and extravagant generosity. His generosity cannot be measured. There is no limit or end to his abundance.
Let’s consider the seed. The seed represents the Word of God. As I already pointed out, there is no place where the seed does not go. God does not withhold his word from any person, any country, any race, any religion, any culture.
Let’s consider the 4 types of terrain where the seed lands. First, some of the seed lands on the path, where the birds eat it up. Second, some falls on rocky ground, where it is scorched in the sun. Third, some is sown among thorns, where the life is choked off. Fourth, some seed is sown on rich soil, where it bears thirty, sixty, or a hundred-fold.
It is interesting to note that 75% of what the sower scatters produces nothing. But the yield of the remaining 25% is extraordinary. A 100-fold return on a bushel of seed is unimaginable. This type of harvest is far greater than farmers could hope for in their wildest dreams.
These 4 types of terrain represent the human heart. The seed sown on the path represents the human heart that is indifferent or unresponsive to the Word of God. Therefore, it is easy for the Word to be snatched out of such a heart by sin and evil.
The seed sown on the rocky ground represents the human heart that welcomes the Word when times are good. When adversity and trials arrive, this person abandons his / her faith and may even reject God.
The seed sown among the thorns represents the human heart that hears the word of God, but fails to act upon it because attachments to power, wealth, honor and pleasure become the priority in life.
In all of these 3 situations, the Word of God yields nothing. It produces no fruit for the Kingdom of God.
The seed sown in rich soil represents the human heart that hears the word of God and acts upon it. The lives of these individuals are focused on doing what is good and pleasing to God. They produce much fruit for God’s Kingdom.
The point of the parable is for each of us to reflect on this question: What am I going to do now that I am confronted with this overabundant and never-ending extravagance from God? Such profound and excessive love demands a response from us. The fundamental challenge of this Gospel is about accepting the lavish and generous gift of the word of God into our hearts.
What do we mean by the “Word of God?”. The “Word of God” is not a thing. The “word of God” is a person. As the Scriptures tell us, Jesus himself is the Word of God made flesh. Jesus himself is the seed sown. Jesus wants to take root in us. Will we allow this seed to be sown deep, where it can’t be stolen, scorched, or choked?
The invitation is to open our hearts to receive, welcome and accept Jesus. The goal is for our hearts to become a place where the divine life thrives. It is there that we will be able to discern God’s will for us. The ultimate questions become: How deep is my commitment to Jesus? Is faithfulness to the Gospel the priority of my life?
The biggest mistake that we can make is to think that we are alone in making sure that the life of God grows and develops within us. We are not left to our own devices. God never abandons us.
That’s the reason for which the Eucharist is so important. In Holy Communion, Jesus himself literally and physically plants himself within us. He truly and really joins his life to ours. He becomes intimate with us and close to us. He feeds us with his own divine life. That divine life brings all the divine help and grace that we can possibly need. That help, which has the power to change the landscape of our hearts, is available on a daily basis just for the asking.
This parable stressing a failure rate of 75% is not meant to scare us. The opposite is true. The intent of the parable is to inspire us to take inventory of our spiritual lives. How would I describe the terrain of my heart? Can I do better? Am I living up to the potential that God wants to bestow upon me? Can I improve the way I open my heart to the power of the Eucharist?
Even in the midst of anxiety associated with a deadly pandemic, the goal of the parable is to give us hope. We are invited to have confidence that God will bring about great results in our lives. With his help, we can bear abundant fruit.
So regardless of the challenges we are facing in our individual lives at this moment, let us persevere in the practice of our faith. Let us remain steadfast in our prayer life and in the reception of the sacraments. As we prayed during the Opening Prayer of today’s Mass, let us become disciples who reject everything that is contrary to the Gospel. Then the seed will take root in us. Then our lives will produce fruit 30, 60 or a 100-fold.
As our Mass continues, let us ask God for the grace to transform our hearts into rich soil where Jesus’ divine life may grow and thrive. In this way, we can abound in works of faith, hope and love in his service.
Deacon Roland Muzzatti
July 12, 2020