The good farmer -- the successful farmer -- sows seeds on good rich soil that has been prepared, fertilized and tilled and yields a rich and abundant harvest! So why does Jesus tell the parable of a farmer who scatters seeds on bad soil, indiscriminately throwing it among the weeds and the thorns and the rocky soil...why sow it in these places? What is his point?
Parables are meant to get us thinking -- just when we think we understand the point of the story, upon further reflection another layer is revealed. I like to compare parables to finely cut and polished gemstones. As we mull over a parable and turn it around in our minds, we discover more and more facets of the story that at first glance may not have been so
obvious. That is the amazing quality of the parable.
In this parable, some interpret the sower as God and the indiscriminate sowing of the seeds as an example of God’s all- inclusive love for all peoples. They understand the seed sown is “the Word” offered to everyone, regardless of the potential that they will accept it and allow it to grow within them, or not.
Perhaps God sees possibilities of growth and abundant harvest amongst the thorns and rocky soil that we cannot even yet imagine! It seems to me that “the Word” being sown is “the Word of Justice” sown in the thorns and rocky ground of racism and bigotry. And “the Word” is crying out for racial justice in the midst of unjust structures that systematically favor one race over another -- white privilege. And God’s “Word” will take root and grow, as we have seen it do in the hundreds of thousands of the Black Lives Matter protesters across this country and around the globe.
For Isaiah told us that God said “so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” That “end” is justice and equality for all God’s children!
What are the “thorny or rocky” parts of my life where the seeds of the Gospel have yet to yield an abundant
harvest? Where in the world is the rocky soil on which God has sown seed from which is springing new growth at this moment that both surprises and delights? Where am I being called “to tend to the Word” that needs to be cultivated and nurtured in the rocky and thorny world around me?
The Word is offered equally to all, as is God’s love, lavished on all peoples!
And in today’s parable, maybe Jesus sees possibilities for growth, where we don’t yet see them.