After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
“‘though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.’[a]
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.Luke 8: 1-15
We chose to focus on the Parable of the Sower for the inaugeral Farm To Jesus supper for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s farm-related so relevant to the fresh and local food agenda of FtJ. Secondly, it speaks to all of us. We all fall into at least one of these categories that Jesus so vividly paints a picture of with His words and then explains so adequately so there is no misunderstanding the point to His story. We discussed how most of us fall somewhere in between the seeds that fell on rocky ground and among thorns.
As young adults, young couples, young families, we are new to this life where we are fully in charge of our own actions. Our parents helped guide us to get us here, but then we were set free to choose the life we’d like to lead. It can feel like rocky waters at times, especially when we get bogged down with being “busy” and trying to find stability, a sense of control, and meaning through an abundance of activities or ambitions. It’s incredible how easy it is to slip down this road of blurry focus without realizing that we’re losing our connection with God. We may talk to Him occassionally. We may even attend church regularly, but when our lives get muddled by the mundaneness of this world, our focus shifts away from a true, meaningful relationship with God. Relationships require time to slow down, to nurture, and to foster them, and our individual relationships with God are no different.
Why do we let worldly things such as riches or ambitions, activities, and worries get in the way of our relationship with our God? We discussed how for some people, they remember to pray when times are tough, when they need help or guidance. For others, they remember to talk to God when things are going well, when all cylinders are running smoothly, including their conversation with Him. And still for others, they may be going through the motions but get stuck in the rut of the not feeling a real connection. If you’re married or have been in a long-term relationship, then you may be able to identify with any of these three scenarios. How simple is it for us to lean and depend on our significant other only when we need them? How exciting is it to feel a togetherness only on a vacation or when life is running like clockwork? How down-trodden do we feel when we’re doing everything “right” and going through all the “right” motions only to question why we feel more distant than ever?
Jesus’ answer is to have a noble and good HEART. What does that mean? How does that look in practice? For starters, we listen. We don’t just let words go through one ear and escape through the other. We truly listen to our spouse, our children, those around us, and most importantly to God’s word. Then we hold fast to the words we’ve heard. What do they mean? How do they apply to us? Do they call us to action? Do they give us guidance for how to go forward? And lastly, we create through perservation. If you’ve ever canned, dehydrated, or put away food for the future in your fridge or freezer, then you know you did so with creative intention and the ultimate goal of perserving that food. We are creative beings made by a creative God. He made us in His image and likeness with creativity being a significant piece of His make-up and image. (He created the world in seven days…) Everyone is creative in their own ways with their own set of God-given talents. When we are intentionally creative with the sole purpose of sustanance, we enter into this action call by Jesus. How do we do this? After we’ve listened, after we’ve retained, it is then time to implement what we’ve heard and learned. This can be applied to every relationship we have and absolutely to our relationship with Jesus.
When we hear that our child or spouse has had a hard day, we think about the problem as a whole and possibly have suggestions for how to fix it to avoid the difficulty in the future or we may listen and stay silent, understanding that they are merely sharing their difficulties with us so it isn’t so burdensome to them. After assessment, we act. Do they need a hug? A kind word? A shoulder to cry on? Something silly to cheer them up? We act in order to help them the best that we can and in a way that they need and tells them they are cared for and loved. Jesus calls us to do this with everyone in our lives. Be of service to others. Love others. When our spouse or child or friend has had a fantastic day or week, we listen to what has happened and the cause of their excitement. We retain and assess it. Then we act upon it according to our own creativity and invention of how to respond. Maybe they’d like a hug. Maybe they’d like a “well done!” Or maybe they are just content with knowing that you share in their joy with them. Whatever our response, as long as it’s noble and good, then we are perserving that relationship and its meaningful connection for the future. For our last example, prehaps everything in our lives is going swimmingly to plan. All the i’s are dotted. All the t’s crossed. We have everything we could ever want or need. We fill our lives with community and activity. We talk to God. We love and appreciate our children, our spouse, and our friends. We’re blessed and we know it, but then why do we feel unfulfilled? Why do we feel emptiness? Father Mike points out in the homily posted below that it’s the difference between effectiveness and efficiency. You can be efficient without being effective. You can be successful in all the ways you can imagine but miss the destination point of success completely. Going through the motions of life, even if they are all the right motions, won’t bring you peace and fulfillment without true intention and purpose, without the creativity to perserve.
We are creative, loving beings with a creative, all-loving God. When our relationship with Him has meaning, purpose, and connection, it trickles down into all facets of our life. Let us strive to be the seeds on good soil. Let us strive to be noble and good by doing the small, daily actions that are noble and good and to foster our connection with God and those around us.