Sexagesima Luke 8:4-15
Have you tried to sow a lawn, you have to first dig over the area you are going to make in to a lawn, then level it and finally rake it smooth.
Only after all this preparing can you sow the grass seed, which you scatter over the prepared area evenly, if you are lucky the seed will end up in the right place, but some of it will not.
Some of it will end up on the path and be lost, while some will end up in the flower beds and so will have to be pulled out in due course as it grows up with the flowers and plants.
Jesus used a similar example to this in today’s Gospel reading as this was the way that most farmers two thousand years ago would sow their fields.
If Jesus was telling this Parable today He might have told it slightly differently, He might have told us about the seeds that was planted in good soil and was ruined by the floods, but the message would still be the same.
Palestine is not a land of fertile acres like the UK, its soil is poor, rocky, and bramble infested.
Its fields are small, rights-of-way and paths are numerous, and the man that has a field large enough and sufficiently clear of rocks in which to use a mechanical plough was a rare exception.
When Jesus described the sower and the fate of the seed, He could have pointed to any of the fields that surround the area He was preaching in, and said “it happened over there” as a why to start His parable but He did not as we can see in this reading.
The meaning of this parable in to days Gospel is explained by Jesus Himself.
“9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved.
13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
15 And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
Jesus in this parable was not commenting on farming problems but explaining the way in which the Kingdom of God was going to arrive.
Many of the people listing to Jesus were expecting something big and obvious to happen, for a new king to overthrow Herod, a new and legitimate high priest to oust the present high priest, and in particular for a Jewish movement to get rid of the hated pagans, the Romans who were their ultimate masters.
None of this was happening, certainly not in the way they thought.
Jesus was keen to open their eyes and ears so that they could see and hear what God was actually doing, but some of them could not accept what he was telling them.
The majority of the Jews, at the time of Christ’s coming, had the wrong idea of what the Messiah’s Kingdom would be like.
They had drifted far from the spiritual idea foretold by the prophets, and they were looking for a political Messiah who would free them and their lands from the hated Romans and establish a flourishing earthly kingdom.
So when Christ speaks of His Kingdom He uses parables in which the spiritual and supernatural value of His kingdom is signified but in veiled language which only those who are well disposed can understand.
“The Others” or as St Mark in his Gospel (4:11) who has the same parable says “those outside” that is those whose hearts are hardened against a spiritual kingdom, will be given the doctrine but through their hardness of heart they will fail to understand it or will misinterpret it according to their preconceived ideas.
In both cases the fact that they fail to learn the true nature of Christ’s kingdom is attributable to their own prejudice only, a prejudice which was blameworthy, for the Prophets, with whom they were familiar, had always stressed the exclusively spiritual nature of the Messiah’s mission.
The Messiah was to redeem them from their sins and to make available for them the kingdom of eternal happiness.
To this end all His teachings tended, but as Jesus showed in this parable, each of His hearers had to do their part.
The sower in the parable represents Christ and Christ is still the sower of all our seeds.
The seed was and is His Gospel message, a message that we can still receive today.
The soil was the individuals who accepted the Gospel of Christ which we can all still accept today two thousand years later.
The sower did and still does his part correctly.
The seed is without defect, but, unless the soil receiving it is receptive and well disposed, the crop will be a failure.
So let us be receptive and let the seeds grow and bare fruit a hundredfold.