The “Parable of the Sower” is found in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20 and Luke 8:4-15.
The parable is as follows:
“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.” (Matthew 13:2-9)
Jesus then explains the parable to his disciples saying:
“The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. 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. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. 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.” (Matthew 13:19-23)
Commenting on the “Parable of the Sower” St. Jerome said “Note that this is the first parable that has been given with its interpretation, and we must beware where the Lord expounds His own teachings, that we do not presume to understand anything either more or less, or any way otherwise than as so expounded by Him.”
Without overstepping Jesus’ own explanation, I will attempt to provide some food for thought on the “Parable of the Sower.”
First, it is worth noting that the seed is scattered on all types of surfaces. It is sown without discrimination by the sower. Jesus tells us earlier in Matthew’s Gospel that God the Father “makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)
In his love for us, God has sent his saving word to all of us.
Second, it is worth noting what prevents the seed from bearing fruit.
- Lack of understanding of God’s word – the seed sown on the path
- Lack of perseverance – the seed sown on rocky ground
- Attachment to the world – the seed sown among thorns
How many who have heard the word of God have failed to bear fruit because they lack understanding?
They receive the word, but being poorly catechized, their faith is stolen from them.
How many who have heard the word of God have failed to bear fruit because they do not persevere in the faith through times of adversity? When some “tribulation” comes, such as the inexplicable death of an infant to illness, faith in a loving God which was once received with joy is completely lost. When some “persecution” comes, such as the pressure to fit in with the morality of secular society, the word of God and the teaching of Holy Mother Church is gradually abandoned.
How many who have heard the word of God have failed to bear fruit because they have unhealthy attachments to the things of this world? Our desire for worldly things consumes our time and energy and we have little to nothing left to dedicate to the building up of God’s kingdom.
Lack of understanding, lack of perseverance, and attachment to the things of this world have prevented the word of God from bearing fruit in the lives of many.
But we should not despair if at the current moment we relate to the path, or the rocky ground, or even the seed choked out by thorns!
If our hearts are as hard as a path or rocky ground, remember that God promised, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
May we always seek greater understanding of the word of God, persevere through any trials that may come our way, and set our hearts on the eternal God rather than the passing pleasures of this world.
If we do these things, we will produce much fruit.
Previously posted as Parable of the Sower