The parable of the sower

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

Romans 8:18-23

Brothers and sisters: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Matthew 13:1-9

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear."

In this Sunday’s Gospel Reading, Jesus teaches us with the “Parable of the Sower”. Having been a practicing Catholic for quite a few decades, it is easy to feel that the seed of faith has been sown in the good soil of my heart. Is it really?

As I take a closer look at Jesus’ explanation of the parable, I am not sure. The parable speaks about seeds sown on rocky ground “when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away” and those sown among thorns that “the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word” (Mt] 13:21,22). Do I always defend my faith on some controversial issues in the eyes of the world without hesitation if I know that doing so may cause trouble, discord or confrontation with my neighbours? Depending on the circumstances, I have not done so at all times. I am lucky enough that I have not been put to the test of persecution. If I were, I will probably fail poorly. Measuring myself against Jesus’ teachings in this parable, I must admit that I am not doing so well. I must strive to provide the good soil for the seed of faith that has been sown in my heart.

How can we be “set free from its bondage to decay and (will) obtain the glory of the children of God” (Rom 8: 21)? It is hard to do it on our own. It may be easier if we have a faith community or a prayer group to which we belong, so that we can encourage and stand by each other.

But above all, we must turn to Jesus as He teaches us in this parable, “turn – and I would heal them” (Mt 13:15). Let us be inspired by Cardinal Thomas Collins’ key message in his homily, “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach”, when he celebrated Mass for the five Chinese Catholic parishes at our annual pilgrimage to Martyrs’ Shrine, Midland, Ontario, last Saturday. He said that while these words are used in the rite of ordination to the diaconate, they are equally applicable to us. By believing what we read in the Gospels, teaching what we believe, and practicing what we teach, we are doing our part to provide the good soil for the seed of faith that has been sown in our hearts.

Shiu Lan

 
Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.


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