Our Generous God. The seed scattered by the sower in today’s Gospel reading fell on four different terrains –the edges of the footpaths… on patches of rock…among thorns… and on rich fertile soil. Soil in the Holy Land is scarce. Its often sandy and shallow, sometimes forming only the thinnest layer over a limestone bedrock. Where the soil is washed away the rock is quickly exposed.At the time of Jesus, it was not unusual to find many public walkways and pathways through the fields (hence the gospel accounts of Jesus and his followers picking ears of corn as they walked).The chances of a significant quantity of the scattered seed falling on the pathway were high and whatever seed fell on the path was quickly trampled underfoot or eaten by the birds…Thorny plants and scrub are often all that manage to survive in this harsh terrain where rainfall is scarce and the sun heat is scorching. Such conditions are not exactly conducive to growth.And so a large proportion of the seed which was scattered was doomed from the outset and that which did grow was quickly scorched for lack of water in the shallow soil.The metaphors were fairly obvious, or should have been, for those hearing the parable. The parable offers a message which is both comforting and challenging for Jesus’ followers.
The analogy of God as ‘the sower’ is a reassuring one…God is not economical or sparing with his love and he does ever just confine the seed of His Word to fertile soil…God is always willing to take a risk; he scatters the seed generously and abundantly – knowing that some will be lost, scorched or washed away.God is indiscriminate… his love is offered freely and unreservedly for all, regardless of how receptive we are…And God knows that some may reject his love completely (with hearts like hardened rock),some may accept it only at a very superficial level but it has little bearing or impact on their daily life (like the shallow soil),and that there are others who long for something deeper but that spiritual thirst is never quenched in the rollercoaster of life where so many other noises drown out His voice and the briars of earthly cares and distractions quickly smother the seeds of faith when they sprout.The parable of the sower is also a challenging one for those who apply it honestly to their own lives.Jesus invites his listeners to take an honest look at themselves and realise what type of soil best captures who they are is?
This morning he does the same for us. Which type of soil am I? Is my heart hardened to the Word of God and to the plight of the most vulnerable in my midst? Is my heart like the exposed rock where the seed is quickly washed away?Am I always allowing the Lord’s voice to be drowned out in my life? Do I opt for the shallow and superficial over the depth that God’s word offers?
One thing is certain…God always scatters generously…What’s never quite so certain is how much space we are ready to give to him in order for that seed to bear fruit in our lives…So let’s ask for the grace to approach the Lord with empty hands and expectant hearts today, so that he he will find in us a terrain of soil that is ready and fertile…and on which his loving plan for each of us will begin to take shape.