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Parable of the Sower

Readings:  Is 55:10-11; Ps 65:10-14; Rm 8:18-23; Mt 13:1-9

The Parable of the Sower 

“The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.  But he has no root and lasts only for a time. . . . . But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

One of the jarring transitions we encounter each year is the summer switch from our busy schedule to a light and restful time with our families and friends.  The other day I took a chunk of time off from our community to watch the musical Broadway ‘The Phantom of the Opera’[1] in Majestic Theater on 44th Street, NY.  The music was beautiful along with the cinematography that underscores the emerging alchemy.  The psychological and spiritual themes were evidently intertwined in the story.  One was the theme of the masquerade, the mirror and the mask.  Its figurative meaning had a thread of hidden longing to be known.  The other theme was human struggle between love (eros) and power.  This reflects, however, the familiar cadence in personality, growth or death in relationship. 

            The Phantom, whose face is horribly disfigured by a mother who had tried to abort him with caustic fluids, was able to escape the cage where he had been kept like an animal.  Christine, a young, innocent girl, orphaned after the death of her father and trained as ballet dancer has been privately tutored in music by the unseen Phantom.  Her beautiful voice, however, captivated the heart of Raoul, the theatre’s patron.  Christine’s inner world is now drawn to him as she struggles to be free from the spirit force of Phantom.

          As a love story there’s an incident in the final scene that caught my attention.  It’s when Christine confronts the Phantom because he threatens to kill Raoul if ever he chooses him.  I like what she said in singing: “It is not your haunted face, I fear; it is in your soul the true distortion lies.”

            In today’s gospel where Jesus uses an analogy of a farmer (sower) in ‘The Parable of the Sower’[3] and how they react when they are exposed to the Word of God.  Without a change of heart, I’m positive that such a soul cannot be saved by the gospel alone. 

            We could imagine in those days when farmers did not have the modern farm equipment that we now have today.  They had a bag of seeds like an apron worn across the front of their body.  They would grab a handful of seed and throw them away as they walked through the field.  Some scholars call it “broadcasting seed.”

            Perhaps we can find ourselves somewhere in the parable, either the seeds falling on the road,[7]  The seed represents God’s word communicated in different ways.  Receiving the word of God and being called to apply it in actual life is a time of grace, a defining experience.  However, without proper nourishment and sense of direction that aligns to discipleship, the received word will never produce good results or bring to fruition.  Discipleship leads those who receive the word to a true understanding of: “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  In the same vein, “discipleship helps our roots go deep and provides water for sustained growth; it teaches how to recognize and eliminate the thorns which choke and kill” (Jn 3;16).

            If we look at the OT the concept of spiritual kingdom is an object of prophecy, preparation and fulfillment.  In today’s parable,[9]

In today’s gospel where Jesus uses an analogy of a farmer (sower) in ‘The Parable of the Sower’[2] and how they react when they are exposed to the Word of God.  Without a change of heart, I’m positive that such a soul cannot be saved by the gospel alone. 

            Like the story of the Phantom of the Opera the shadow in each of us explains our connection to that experience of the wounded child within the wounded man.  In our long journey for love and wholeness, a call of self-examination poses how we make use of our responsibilities, our duties and commitments in the midst of affliction, masquerade, or make-believe in today’s world.  They are like weeds that also grow with us and compete for space and resources.  God bless you.

[1]  Weber’s Opera is an adaptation of a Gothic love story written by Gaston Leroux, first published in 1911, and set in Paris in 1890.  There has been a significant translation of the work from that time.  No longer a simple tale of a monster preying on an innocent young woman, it now strikes a resonance in the modern psyche. 

[2]  cf.  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  It is a parable of Jesus according to all of the Synoptic Gospels (at Mark 4:1-20, Mt 13:1-23, Lk 8:1-15) as well as in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas (Th. 9).  In the parable, a sower dropped seed on the path, on rocky ground, and among thorns, and the seed was lost, but when seed fell on good earth, it grew, yielding thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.

[3]  The soils represent the hearts of men.  The Bible heart is comprised of intellect (Rm 10:9-10) emotion (Mt 22:37) and will (Rm 6:16-17). Good-soil herat Christians comprise the church that will weather every adversity for the faith (Acts 8:1-4), evangelize the world (Mk 16:15-16), exercise pure living (Titus 2:12) and gladly worship together (Heb 10:25).

[4]  They represent those who hear the word but dismiss it straight away – the synoptics state that the sinner is what takes the word away.

[5]  They represent those who hear the word, but only accept it in a superficial way.  The synoptics state that these sorts of people reject the word as soon as it causes them affliction or persecution.

[6]  They represent those who hear the word of God, and take it to heart, but allow mundane concerns, such as money, power, prestige to choke it.

[7]  They represent those who hear the word of God, and truly understand it, causing it to bear fruit.

[8]  It was spoken by Jesus to “great multitudes, outside and near Capernaum.  Jesus used a boat as a platform from which to address his audience on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Mt 13:1-2).  Mt 13:3-9, 19-23; Mk 4:3-9, 14-20; Lk 8:4-8, 11-15.  Understanding the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Tares is the key to understanding all the parables of Christ.

[9]  Warren W. Wiersbe.  Windows on the Parables.  Wheaton, Scripture Press, p. 24.