Gospel text (Mt 13:1-9): Jesus left the house and sat down by the lakeside. As many people gathered around him, He got in a boat. There He sat while the whole crowd stood on the shore, and he spoke to them in parables about many things. Jesus said, «The sower went out to sow and, as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground where there was little soil, and the seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was not deep. But as soon the sun rose the plants were scorched and withered because they had no roots. Again other seeds fell among thistles; and the thistles grew and choked the plants. Still other seeds fell on good soil and produced a crop; some produced a hundredfold, others sixty and others thirty. If you have ears, then hear!».
In our Gospel today Jesus is telling the parable of the “Sower and the Seed” to the crowd. Most of us are quite familiar with the story. The Sower is Christ. The seed is the Good News. And the soils are the minds and hearts of each of us.
What Jesus is teaching is that his good news is having an effect comparable to the fruit produced in the parable. For all too many who hear the word it produces nothing. The faith of some gets choked out by the brambles of material concerns and interests and so it dies. For others it never develops because the soil lacks the depth and moisture required for people to practice their faith. For others it is carried away by the birds who dream up manmade religions about what they would like faith to be. The result is agnosticism, atheism and pseudo religions. In these cases the seed dies and there can be no harvest.
In the parable some seed produced fruit 30, 60 or 100fold. It seems that even in the good soil the seed sowed produced various quantities of harvest. Although these seeds were all sowed in good ground, owing to the composition of the soil according to the percentage and variety of the elements, some crops do better than others. Soil might have a greater or lesser clay content or sandy concentration. Ground can be more or less alkaline or acidic. These various conditions of the soil can be changed by the skillful farmer who wants to plant wheat or changed in another way by the farmer who wants to plant grapes.
Now the Scriptures with Jesus’ parables continue to live on and nourish believers forever. Today we know the seed is the same Good News and the soil is still the minds and hearts of each of us. And a good bet is that anyone taking the time to read these reflections has good seed-soil capable of producing a worthwhile harvest.
However, augmenting the analogy of the parable, the challenge might be for us to try to improve the soil of our minds and hearts. Tilling the ground can always enrich it. Just as greater attention when participating in the sacraments and reciting our prayers can deepen our faith. Perhaps there could be further mulching through a more consistent prayer life or charitable outreach to the needy. Or the texture of the soil could be improved by fertilizing it with further Scripture study, some volunteering activity, or in other ways. After improving our seed-soil we might not notice that much difference in the harvest in this life but in the next life we will be happy to learn that our harvest increased 30, 60 or 100 fold.