Today’s Gospel is a follow-up to yesterday’s reflection on the parable of the sower. The first thing to notice is that Jesus is not speaking to the crowds in parables, he is speaking to His disciples in plain language, explaining the parable He just told the crowds. This is what “friends” do – they speak in plain terms with each other, sharing the same knowledge and understanding because they are “friends”:
“You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do Icall you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you.” [John 15:14-16].
Before getting the “correct” answers to questions regarding what Jesus meant by the references to soil, seed, roots, etc., recalling that there were four different “states” or conditions greeting the seed as it fell to the ground from the sower’s hand:
I just want to state the “obvious” in today’s powerful teaching from our Lord that is often overlooked in this explicit teaching to His disciples by focusing on the key phrases used:
- “Hear the parable of the sower” = “Hear” = UNDERSTAND
- “The seed sown on the path = “Path” = NO UNDERSTANDING
- “Evil One comes and steals away” = the Word of the Kingdom from the heart of the person without understanding as to the meaning of the Word (the person whose’s heart (soil) is the path (where people are walking and trampling constantly. It is the devil who ‘snatches’ the seed because to ‘not understand’ is to be deceived about the truth, and when that happens, it’s because of the lies and confusion of the devil.
- “The seed sown on rocky ground” = the Word that is planted in soil that is crowded out with “hard heart” parts because the heart (one’s “desire”) is not set on the Kingdom (God and dong only God’s Will) but is ‘divided’ between earthly [kingdom of ‘this world’ where the Devil currently rules as Prince] and heavenly [Kingdom that, as Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “…not of this world.” The heart (desire) of the person that is like ‘rocky ground’ is given to God ‘conditionally’ because attachments to self, pleasure and doing’s one’s own will was never truly given to God, so when that get’s challenged by strife or persecution, the “true” nature of the person’s commitment and relationship with God is revealed by the choice made that “matters most” in the end – to serve oneself rather than one’s God.
- “The seed sown among thorns” = the Word get’s smothered. Here we see a person who has a greater commitment to God than the person with the heart of “rocky ground”, e.g., deeper roots (understanding) of the truth of the Word planted in the heart, and a more passionate and sincere desire for God, but again, the surrender is conditional. This person also fails to surrender his or her heart (desire) completely, but not out of a desire to serve and please self so much as out of “fear” of the future which creates anxiety, which takes the place of God as the focus of our attention and concern. The issue at the ‘heart’ of the thorny heart is a failure to trust in the great power, mercy and love of God, and to retain the reins of one’s own will out of fear.
- “Seed sown on rich soil” = is exactly the opposite of “seed sown on the path”: whereas there is no “understanding” with the path person, the heart that is” rich soil” UNDERSTANDS the WORD of the Kingdom, and all that entails to truly accept the Good News of the Kingdom of God and give one’s entire heart (desire) to being in union with Jesus so as to participate in that Kingdom.
This is a parable about “understanding” – which is the KEY to being able to completely surrender to God and live continuously in His Divine Will, abiding constantly in the peace, joy and power that is the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
We think that ‘knowing’ something is important – that’s what we say always, “Do you ‘know’ that…..” To understand is to “know” the essence of that which is not seen – to enter into the spiritual truth of reality through the invitation of Jesus who is reality.
I know my new blender chops up stuff but unless I understand how to “make it work” I’m not chopping anything! Same with our spiritual journey to God – we may know that Jesus “saved us” by being born into the world, testifying to the truth throughout His life, that “truth” being that He is the Son of God come into the world by the Will of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit to save humanity from the outcome of sin and enslavement to the emptiness of self, but do we UNDERSTAND how he saves us, and what that entails on our part, what being ‘saved’ demands of us by way of having faith and trust in Jesus and living in accordance with his teachings and obeying all His commands? If we “know” Jesus saves us, but don’t UNDERSTAND how, and fail to do what is required to “allow” that salvation to happen in our lives by the great love, mercy and grace of God, then we might be told: “Away from me…I never knew you…” at the pearly gates.
“Jesus grant us the desire to truly know in the deepest possible way – by understanding. Give us insight to see the marvellous inner workings of your Wisdom which orders all things marvellously to reveal the glory of your Father in heaven. Give us the meekness and humility to truly grasp that we know only what you reveal to us; we understand only what you make us to understand by sharing yourself, “the Wisdom and Understanding” of God. Help us to see “why” so we will more passionately commit ourselves to doing the “what” you command, “when” you command it, to “who” you ask us to serve on your behalf, exactly “how” You would love and serve those people if you were here. As we struggle to understand all the “particulars,” give us to always hold fast in the rich soil of our hearts as deep roots the “general” understanding upon which all understanding springs: that You are truly “all in all” and we are nothing outside of life in You.” Amen.