There’s an obvious running theme in the readings for this Sunday – they all have something to do with agriculture and growing things. The first reading (Isaiah 55:10-11) compares the Word of God to precipitation (rain & snow) which fall from the sky and which make the ground fertile soil for things to grow. The second reading (Romans 8:18-23) speaks of this life as a period of expectation – like labor pains – within which we all wait for the appearance of new life. The Gospel (Matthew 13:1-23) is the Parable of the Sower along with its explanation.
I encourage you to read them either in your own Bible, or to check out the full text on the USCCB website here.
These readings present us with two metaphors for the word of God: the Gospel presents His Word as a seed and the first reading presents His Word as the moisture which makes the soil fertile. In both cases, we are the soil. And the obvious question should be what sort of soil are we? Are we the sort of soil where God’s word can be choked out, stolen away, or otherwise stunted; or are we the sort of soil where God’s word can flourish and produce in abundance? Do we soak in the moisture of His Word, or let it run right off of us?
It’s amazing to consider how simple the task of the soil actually is. The soil just sits there, and allows the gardener or farmer to move and prepare it to receive the seed. And if it’s the rich, fertile soil we hear about in the Gospel… something amazing happens as the seed is transformed and life blooms.
We are the soil. Ponder that mystery as you head to Mass this weekend and hear these readings. God is showering His living water on you that you might become fertile soil, so that the seeds sown might bear fruit in your life, and in the lives of all those you know.
Consider the fact that along the way, we’ve all picked up a little in the way of rocks and a little in the way of thorns – because of our own choices, parts of us want to choke out the Word and parts of us don’t have the ability to let seed grow. Consider also the fact that parts of us may have been trampled over by the experiences of life and the choices of others and so we don’t feel like we’re any good for growing the Word anymore.
Then, remember who the farmer/gardener is. It is our God – He who loves us Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He will till us and turn us over, He’ll pick out the rocks and pull out the weeds, and He’ll soften us up in the ways we most need it. If the expected harvest takes some waiting – some “labor pains,” as St. Paul describes it – so be it. Growing a good harvest takes effort and patience.
Have a great Sunday!