When I opened the Bible (which I seldom do as most of the time my research activities are done on the Web) to check on Gospel readings for July, it surprisingly opened to where Chapter 13 of St. Matthew is inscribed, the Parable of the Sower! While this Parable may be one of the well known Bible stories, I am just not so keen about it. I don’t know why it happened that the said page was the first to open up but I felt there was a purpose, probably it was a challenge posed to me by God on how I should properly listen and discern on His messages, particularly on this part of the Parable. Ahhh… :
“Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Of the four (4) different types of soils mentioned in the Parable, we would be able digest and examine our conscience based on the Lord’s descriptions of each soil and respond to the following: Which category of “soil” am I growing on? Am I the rich (good), the thorny, the rocky or the hard path way type of soil? Did I do something to enhance my “soil” so as to give nutrients to the seed for it to survive and thrive in a changing environment? Am I doing what God made me to do?
The soil is the most essential but at the same time complicated component in growing plants. As we all know, not every place especially in urban areas like NYC has good quality soil for gardening. In fact, some of us need to buy fertile, organic and well-drained soil from stores so as to grow flowers and vegetables during spring and summer time. Horticulturists would say that there are potential drawbacks of growing food plants in urban areas due to pollution in soil and air.
According to experts, food plants grow easily on fertile soil as the latter provides nutrients to them. This is probably the reason why soil matters in the said Parable of the Sower. Rich fertile soil enables plants to grow, and the produce of these plants which we consume, in turn, provides the nutrients that our body needs to stay healthy and grow properly.
Just like an ordinary farmer, to have a rich fertile soil on his farmland, he must take an extra effort to cultivate and nurture the soil by digging his hands into the damp dirty soil (that’s one way of doing it), so that after days or months of scattering the seeds, his farmland would yield quality massive produce. The same is true with our spiritual life, we need good “soil” in order to plant the seed that is provided us and make it alive and grow strong so as to increase the spiritual nutrients in our lives. God wants us to be good “soil”, a soil that is humble, obedient and faithful to the end.
However, due to our human frailty, we have flaws, we have regrets and we make mistakes. Especially these days, there are many “pollutions” in our environment: corruption, technology, war, pride, envy, greed, etc. But did you know that even if the soil in us is in bad or dead condition primarily because of our sins or even if we are guilty of being on a rocky, hard or the thorny type of soil because of our worldly desires, we are still given many chances by God to go back to Him? Dead or bad soils can still be fruitful soils if we strive to be faithful, true and make good in our commitments with God. We must try our best to transform our path, thorny and rocky soils to a rich fertile soil so we will be able to yield a crop, like a hundred fold more than was sown. We should seek God’s graces to transform our weaknesses into strengths. We should make God the center of our hearts by avoiding temptations through prayers, by receiving the Sacraments, and by listening to and practicing the Word of God thru good works. God loves us so much, He never tires of forgiving us, He will not forsake us because He wants us all to be with Him forever in Heaven.
In this Parable, Jesus is entrusting us specific tasks coupled with reminders that we should undertake the said tasks with a humble and contrite heart, with all our minds, our souls and our lives. Pope Francis said that: “When the Lord wants to give us a mission…, He prepares, He prepares us to do it well….He always wants us to enter into a process, a process of purification, a process of discernment, a process of obedience, and a process of prayer.” Yes, it may not be an easy task, but we just have to do it, plow the dirty soil without looking back but looking forward to a newly transformed life.
In this Parable, Jesus as the Sower is also inviting and challenging us to be good “soils” by using our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and our minds to understand God’s word; like listening with sinner’s ears with a repentant and humble heart. I know there are times, if not most of the times, we hear the Word of God during Sunday masses or in any spiritual gatherings, but do we really get the message? Sometimes we hear but do not listen. Yup, we hear with our ears but don’t necessarily listen to what is being said, which only means that we are physically present in Church but mentally absent. Our minds wander off too much, they’re somewhere else. Sometimes, we pretend to listen too; we are prone to be distracted with so many things, good and bad things. Oh, forgive me my Lord, sometimes I tend to be like this.
Asking our Blessed Mother’s intention for us to receive God’s blessings is another sure way of getting the right “soil” for all of us. The Blessed Mother will guide us in our quest to meet and face the challenges given us by God, that is on how the Word of God can be planted in us, in our hearts and minds, on how it can be nourished and on how it can grow and work in our present lives.
With Jesus message from the Parable of the Sower, may God grant us the grace to be good, rich and fertile soil so that we will be able to hear and comprehend very well God’s word (the Seed) that is being planted in us. With our Blessed Mother’s intercession, may God grant us the grace to face our daily challenges courageously, on how to be humble hearers, doers and spreaders of His word so that someday, with His blessings we would be able to enter the doors of God’s Kingdom in heaven. Amen.