The parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-23 teaches us about the seed of faith and in whom it takes hold.
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.”
The disciples approached him and said,
“Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted,
and I heal them.
“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
“Hear then the parable of the sower.
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.”
This is a long reading, but it teaches us much. There is the parable itself. Then there is the brief explanation. And then there is the interpretation and its consequences.
Jesus says, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Does that mean God is selective of whom He allows to have knowledge? Or does that mean for some the knowledge is passed on more easily while for others it takes more work to figure out? Perhaps it’s about a willingness or an openness to understand. Jesus says, “Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.” If you understand, then praise God and give thanks.
Then we should be aware of the teachings of the parable. In what group do we belong? Do we know anyone in these groups, anyone we can help?
Anyone “who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.” This person takes patience and persistence, for he is oblivious to the word of God, opaque to its meaning. If this is you, seek God’s mercy with a contrite heart that you may come to understand and not be lost. If this is someone you know, seek God’s compassion that you may help them with passion come to know God’s love.
Anyone “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.” This person takes companionship and reassurance, for it is easy to become cynical and feel abandoned. If this is you, seek the company of believers and the grace of the sacraments to uplift and strengthen you. If this is someone you know, seek God’s will to help and comfort them, to be at their side in times of trouble. Remind them of their time of joy in God, and show them His love.
Anyone “who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.” This person is a hard one, for as Jesus tells us elsewhere in the Gospels, it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. And worldly anxiety creates a fight-or-flight reflex, and this person turns unto himself or fights off others in fear. If this is you, seek the love of God, which is evident everywhere. It is free just for the asking. Jesus tells us elsewhere in the Gospels that if we ask the Father for anything in Jesus’ name, it will be given us. Ask it in a loving respectful manner, of course. Seek out the sacraments to build you up. Give up your will to His will. Seek not wealth for the sake of wealth but all for the glory of God. If this is someone you know, do not get tangled up in his anxiety, his lofty pursuit of wealth, or his cynicism. Instead, let him get caught up in your humbleness, in your release of your worries to God’s all-knowing will, and be joyous in the abundance of life that God has given you, however much — or however little — that is. A person of wealth often lives a showy lifestyle because of it, but he has little power over those who are joyous in the simplicity of poverty. Jesus has taught us elsewhere in the Gospels that if God provides for the birds of the field, how much more will He provide for us?
Anyone “who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” If you have read this far, perhaps this is you. Perhaps you simply hope this is you. Hope is the great igniter of faith, for it carries us through the difficult times. Hope leads to faith and faith leads to charity. And all lead to salvation. And if this is you, you will bear fruit among your sisters and brothers, the many Jesus has described above, whom Jesus has commanded us elsewhere in the Gospels to love as ourselves. And love, true God-inspired love, will bear fruit in others. Blessed are your eyes because they see. Blessed are your ears because they hear.
So, God grants us knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven according to our willingness and openness to receive it? According to our faith? If we seek we shall find. If we knock on the door, it will be opened to us.
Glory to God!