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Matthew 13:1-9

The Word of God

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: 'Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!'

Matthew 13:1-9
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • This is certainly the parable for the optimists. However much seed fell elsewhere, the sower would make sure that most of the seed would fall on good ground. Even the poorest yield is thirtyfold! In the Gospel Jesus very often uses the metaphor of the seed to describe the Kingdom and its innate energy. Do I share his optimism, or am I a prophet of doom about the future of the Kingdom in our world?
    • I look at my heart, and see that some parts of my heart are more open to the word of God, others find it more difficult. I follow Jesus’ advice, and listen to what this parable is telling me.
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    • Jesus’ explanation of the different outcomes for the seeds sown, follows in our Gospel passage for the day after tomorrow. But, in between, there is added in the Gospel of Matthew a full reflection from Jesus on why it is only the committed disciples who are receptive enough to take in that explanation.
    • For, what is required is not just any kind of understanding; but understanding-of-the-heart : there needs to be an initial opening of heart, to make space for Jesus’ message.
    • Jesus even quotes a prophet to describe minds that are closed : “This people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed” – little chance, then, of effective healing – “lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them”.
    • To the disciples, on the other hand, “it has been given [by God] to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. These are fortunate – because “many longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it”.
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    • This is the parable of Christian optimism: even if the sower was only moderately good, most of the seed would fall on good ground, bringing forth abundant fruit, at least a thirtyfold. Let anyone with ears listen!
    • On the feast day of the grandparents of Jesus and the parents of Our Lady, I pray in gratitude for my parents and grandparents, and for all who have been given this important mission in their lives.
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    • Many biblical commentators see this parable as the basic metaphor of the whole Gospel. The seed is the Word, and the sower is God, whose will can never be stopped. The seed falls on different types of ground, but the great majority certainly falls on good ground, and its fruit more than makes up for the seeds that fall on more difficult ground. It is the parable of optimism, something which is often lacking in followers of the Gospel.
    • If I am a normal person, my heart contains all four sorts of ground, being more or less open to the Gospel message. I ask for light to see where the hardness and the insecurity lie, and ask the Sower that my life may bear abundant fruit.
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    • Jesus’ parables can heal us to hear and understand how things stand between God and ourselves. They are nuggets of grace that test our heart’s willingness to surrender to the generosity of God.
    • 'Let anyone with ears listen'. This means me! When I come to pray, do I have the soil of an open heart toward Jesus and his teachings? Am I willing to allow his Word to break into my closed heart?
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    • Jesus made the boat his pulpit, announcing the word of God from this unlikely place. The word of God has been scattered in my life - sometimes flourishing, sometimes seeming to fade away. I think of where I am strong and consider how I might give witness to God’s goodness from that place, just as Jesus chose the best place from which to make his voice heard.
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    • As I think of myself as the field in which the word of God is scattered, I may recognise the barren places, the dry patches and the fertile parts. To which do I pay attention? I take some time to appreciate where God’s word has found a root in me and I ask God’s help to remain open to such seed as may be scattered again today.
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    • The different kinds of ground on which the seed falls represent the different ways in which the word of God is received. The degree of receptivity depends on the individual person and the particular circumstances of his or her life. The parable provides hope and encouragement, in that the sower succeeds ultimately in producing a crop from the seed that fell on ‘good soil’.
    • Such crowds gathered to see and hear Jesus that he had to preach from a boat. They were hungry for spiritual nourishment and for leadership. Lord Jesus, I pray for the Church and for all believers today. Make of us a community of disciples, all looking to you.
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    • The words of Jesus do not all bear fruit. Knowing this did not stop Jesus from speaking, but he continued to proclaim good news, truth and life to any who would listen. I take care to review the measures by which I value my actions and words. I pray for the strength to continue speaking and acting – even in the absence of evident encouraging results.
    • Truth is not determined by a majority, but is scattered abroad , being recognised and valued by some. I ask God to help me to hear Jesus’ word for me and to take it to heart.