As a kid, I mistakenly swallowed the seed of a lovely and fleshy African fruit called udara. But that was not the problem. One of my older brothers who shared the fruit with me gave me the scare of my life as he tells me with pity that the seed would germinate in my stomach and grow into a tree.
I could not sleep well during the night as I was checking to see signs of germination in my tummy. My anxiety continued in the following days until another of my brothers busted the theory by telling me that the seed has exited from my body on one of my visits to the house of ease. He also tells me that a seed could not grow inside the stomach as there is no soil in there.
Seed is the maternal home of every reality; life subsists on seed, and we are products of seeds as they determine our future. However, for any seed to germinate, it would need a favorable platform (soil for instance). A good seed can become redundant when it encounters a “bad soil.” There could also be a situation of abundance and fruitfulness when good seeds meet a good ground. We shall be leveraging on this agricultural metaphor in the parable of the sower for a proper understanding of the message today.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest story-teller ever; from my assessment. He often explores the power of narratives to deliver his message to his listeners. There are about 35-45 parabolic stories in the Gospels leaving us with one-third of entire Gospels as stories. Stories not only entertain, but they also educate and inform with greater ease compared to straight content delivered with so many words.
The parable of the sower or more appropriately the parable of the “soils,” is one of the very few parables that would receive a direct interpretation from our Lord Jesus Christ. It is worthy of note that our Lord gives the explanation privately to his disciples. He seems to imply that people should be more functional with their minds to have a deeper understanding: “Whoever has ear ought to hear!” (Matt. 13:9).
Today, we shall not concern ourselves with adding more interpretation to the parable upon the one our Lord gives. We shall be attempting to apply the parables to our lives as representatives of the four different types of soils in the narrative. We shall, however, keep the following highlights at the back of our minds:
- The seed is the word of God.
- The sower is God.
- The soils represent four different types of hearts that receive the word of God.
- The birds at the wayside soil represent the devil that takes the word away because of lack of understanding.
- The rock on the second soil represents a lack of depth after receiving the word with joy.
- The thorns on the third soil represent cares and anxieties in the world that choke the word of God.
- The richness of the fourth soil shows the absence of all the obstacles in the first three soils and the presence of right conditions for fruitfulness.
WHAT IS THIS WORD OF GOD THAT THE SOWER SOWS?
In the passage, we learn that the sower is God Himself. The word of God in the narrative becomes clearer in the light of the Gospel of John (1:1-4). The apostle here tells us that the Word was there in the beginning and the Word was with God and the Word was God and all things came through HIM.
From the passage, we understand that the Word is a person. John (1:14) goes on to tell us that: “the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
The Word that the father sows in these soils is Jesus Christ himself the precious gift He gives to us out of His love (John 3:16). St. Paul gives us more content on God’s gift of His son in his letter to the Galatians (4:4-5):
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.
WHAT TYPE OF “SOIL” ARE YOU?
- The pathway soil (heart)
From the parable, we learn that some seeds fell on the path. A typical pathway would contain constant human, animal, and even vehicular movements and would thus be challenging for any seed to germinate. Beyond the human and animal factor, our Lord tells us in the interpretation that the bird represents the devil that comes to take away the word from the pathway soil (heart).
Stealing is one of the primary tactics of the devil (John 10:10a). However, the devil cannot steal from us except we let him in. We let the devil when we are lousy about the things of God. We let the devil in when we are too busy to pay attention the word and the sacraments. We let the devil in when we are lukewarm (Rev. 3:16).
- The rocky soil (heart)
The seeds that fell on the rock have insufficient soil to germinate because the base is not permeable. The word of God does not grow on a stony heart because there is no provision for the roots to anchor.
We become rocky when we hear the word of God without paying attention. We become rocky when we operate as nominal Christians or church-goers. We become rocky when we jump and clap in the Church and fight and curse outside the church. We become rocky when there is no connection between what we profess and what we do.
- The thorny soil (heart)
Some seeds germinate but do not go any further because of the thorns that stifle them. The thorny heart is weighed down by cares and anxieties in the world.
The biggest problem of the thorny heart is the misplacement of priorities. In life, some things are necessary while others are not just important. Our lives become thorny when we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by things that are unnecessary.
Our lives become thorny when we allow material things to master us instead of mastering them. Our lives become thorny when we seek to gain the whole world to the detriment of our souls (Mark 8:36).
- The good soil (heart)
The good soil has all the working conditions that make it possible for seeds to germinate and grow into what they ought to be. The good heart from the interpretation of our Lord Jesus Christ pays due attention to the word of God (John 10:27) understands it and puts it into use like the man who builds his house upon a solid rock (Matt. 7:24).
Furthermore, the testimony of a good heart is dependent on the fruits it bears. Our Lord tells us that by their fruits you shall come to know them (Matt. 7:20).
As we march into a new week, let us ask God to give us the grace of a renewed commitment to the word of God by becoming that soil that will produce significant and enduring fruits. Have a glorious Sunday.