We can see the allegories of the seeds sown in four kinds of people.


 

Today’s  Gospel reading, Matthew 13: 18- 23, is a common Gospel story, which is found in more than one place and can provide rich messages no matter how often it is used for reflection. Everything that happens in our life is a kind of parable that tells of God’s presence to and His will for each of us. Understanding comes not from ourselves or from the noisy intervention of others, but rather from the Word speaking alone with us in the solitude of our attentive heart. We need to seek solitude of heart if we desire to be a disciple of Christ.

The interpretation of today’s parable reflects the experiences of the early Church as it tried to spread the Gospel. The four different kinds of soil are taken to represent four kinds of responses to the Word of God which it has received. What kind of terrain does God’s Gospel find these days when it hits our soul? Smooth? Rocky? Not able to hold long enough to grow roots?  Or rich, fertile, penetrable with the ability to bear fruit?

The first kind is like the seed on the stony path. The Word of God never even gets started but gets plucked away by the evil influences by which the person is surrounded. In our strongly secular world today it is not easy for the Word to take root with so many competing enticements.

The second kind is like the seed that falls on the rock. The Word of God is received with great enthusiasm; the person becomes a devout and active Christian. But, if obstacles arise which make the living of the Christian life difficult, the person falls away, maybe quickly, maybe gradually. As the Gospel says, the person has no roots; the faith has not gone deep, it is has not been really assimilated. This must have been the case with many in the early Church who enthusiastically embraced Christianity but when persecution came, abandoned their faith. In our own time, we see this often enough when people, for instance, are removed from a protected environment where it is easy to live the faith to one where the faith is ignored or even ridiculed.

The third kind is like the seed that falls among the briars and brambles. I would suggest that a very large number of us are touched by this category. Anxieties about many things and the lure of material goods can gradually choke off our commitment to the Gospel in its fullness. Our witness becomes seriously compromised and “there is no yield”, that is, we make no real contribution to building the Kingdom and changing the world. We sit on the fence and try to have the best of both worlds; we try to serve God and mammon, which Jesus says is not possible. I am sure many of us have matter for reflection here.

Finally, there is the fourth kind of seed which falls on good soil. This is the one “who hears the message and takes it in”. These hear the Word, accept the Word, make it their own and it overflows into all they are and do and say. Much fruit for the world comes from such persons.

These four types can still be found and it is for each one of us to determine to which group we belong. If we examine ourselves in the light of each example, we can discover why His word does not penetrate our hearts or if it does, why it does not go deep. We will come to realize the role that distractions play in replacing our meditation on His word with worry and wealth’s deceit. We need solitude to examine ourselves and this solitude is found in a resolute detachment of the heart from earthly things and the freeing of the heart is achieved and measured by dying to self and to self-will. There we find the rich soil in which we can hear the word and understand it.

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