The Parable of the Sower and the Seed is very familiar to us. We have heard it many times during the cycle of the Lectionary of the Church, the listing of reading assigned for a given Sunday to be read in the church. Sermons are to be based on such each week. Last Sunday, Sexagesima, has assigned the above-mentioned parable. When we hear the story Christ tells, we are to remember the words of God, the Creator and Sustainer, to Adam and Eve, when being expelled from the Garden of Eden. The FALL, is chronicled in the Book of Genesis, The Third Chapter tells us that because of our parent’s decision to listen to the devil, the serpent, there were some consequences to fall. Women would have pain in conception and delivery, not to mention strife in the family. Man was given the “job” to till the soil, to sweat, struggle and fight weeds, famine, disaster and fruitless harvests.
All of this is a change from the perfect provision of God. In the Beginning, all was given to the first man and woman. There was no conception, childbirth or toil. Instead our parents were the recipients of grace and tender love. They reaped the benefits of union with God. They were to appreciate all that was given to them by God. Our parents were fertile fields. The seed of God’s word fell on them. They knew not evil, all was good. Because of disobedience, they were relegated to suffer. Holy leisure was lost and the plan of Salvation jumped into the next chapter. How could we be saved?
Knowing God is different from knowing about God. Man’s new relegation to knowing, made it barely possible to have relation with God, when before a perfect relationship of dependence existed. Now God would have to appeal to the human sensibilities of man and woman. God would speak over the history of man and man would sometimes listen, sometimes ignore God. The new toiling would cause man to focus on himself and his efforts to provide for himself and those around him. The door was opened to be angry with God for the plight of man. The first opportunity to blame God for what man did comes to the forefront!
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Christ tells of four types of response to the word of God. The Bible is full of examples of the four mentioned types of response. There were those who were not oriented to God, poor soil, who heard not God. We still have those today who are so self oriented, selfish and self centered, who will go at life knowing they are capable, there is no free lunch, they can pull themselves up by their own boot straps, they forge on knowing their efforts will be enough. They do not see any benefit from knowing the Creator, the Father, Son or Holy Ghost.
Then there is that group of folks who hear God’s voice and get excited about what they hear, but due to their shallowness, cannot keep focused. They are tempted, maybe looking for short cuts, are unwilling to maintain the relationship. It is just a feel good moment. The fleeting thought of relationship fades away as they are caught up in toiling. They may feel alone in their efforts. They work harder and never accomplish self-sufficiency, happiness or contentment.
Some also hear and follow the word of God until something too big to handle comes their way. The shallowness of their relationship with God leads them to turn away, even though they seem to have gotten it. They surprise us. They could be our friends, family members, co workers or neighbors. When things are good, they believe, then they don’t when things turn.
Those in the final group know that our relationship with God is paramount. It isn’t that we don’t lose sight of God, because sometimes we do when challenges too difficult at times even for the faithful. But it is that we come to our senses, like the Prodigal son or the Woman at the Well. We know that with our God we are a mess. We know that we must cultivate our relationship both with God and with one another. We hear God’s word through the Son, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul and mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” Not putting self above God or man. Dependence is the key. It leads to humility or vice versa.
When we open ourselves to the Power, Glory and Majesty of God, we see His mercy and His justice. We look to Him for provision and are not disappointed of our hope. The roots of His word grow deep into our fertile soil. We find in the most difficult situation, His grace is sufficient. We can come to Him for forgiveness, help, direction and give thanks for others who also have a relationship with Him.
There is a cooperative of farmers, all cultivating the soil of our relationships with Him and then with each other. A church is full blessed when its members work together to make our relationships open to our God. We are not jealous of the relationships of others with God, as Cain was of Abel. Each of us knows we are loved as sons, not neglected when in hard times. Willing to give and receive love from each other.
The devil beguiled Eve in the garden. She was spiritually seduced to go for being God-like. She thought she could become the soil and the sower by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The story didn’t work out well for her. It will not work out well for those today who want to make themselves gods, taking life, bending the rules given by God (the 10 Commandments) and ignoring all the evidence of God’s love, help and provision.
Let us cultivate our soil this Lent, making it ever willing to receive the seed. Help us to be satisfied with God’s provision both for us and for the folks closest to us. Then filled with His strength, go out and tell the world who is our God. What He has done for us. And that, if we open ourselves to Him, we will have fruitful harvests. We will celebrate Him, giving thanks always for His provision, and for the examples of other faithful friends, who also know Him.