When you hear today’s gospel parable, what do you think of – the soil, the seed, the sower, or… something else?
It is usual to ‘hear’ this parable in terms of the soil that the seed falls upon. And it is certainly fruitful to spend time praying about that. Am I good soil? Am I resistant soil? Or am I rocky or filled with things that choke the word out of me? For the truth is that we are probably all those things at once. Perhaps we throw ourselves with a passion into the pro-Life arena; or the social justice aspect of the gospel; or the works of mercy. We have that part down! We are rich soil there. But there are other areas where we are more resistant – like the church’s opposition to the death penalty or its call to immigration reform. Or maybe we’re not so good with the invitation to not let the cares of the world and our business choke our relationship with our Lord out of us. It is easy to think about the soil.
But what if this parable is not about the soil? What if the parable is all about the act of sowing? Make sure that you throw the good news out there liberally. Make sure that you find a hundred ways to let the message be heard? The seed is such good stuff. Don’t be stingy with it. Get it out there. Don’t just put ONE seed down in one place and trust that it will be enough. It may not catch. Throw the seed out ABUNDANTLY…
One of my mentors during my final years in the seminary was Fr. Vince Dwyer, a Trappist priest I met on a retreat. He told a story of his own growing up. He mom and dad were particularly hard on him. Always pushing him. Always on his case. He felt like he could never do anything right. Finally, a few years after ordination, he graduates with a Doctorate degree. So he has now fulfilled the two dreams of every Irish Immigrant parent – to have a priest and a doctor in the family. After the ceremony, he was talking with his dad. “Did you ever think you would see this day, Dad?” “Of course I did!” “Really?” – I was surprised by this. “You really did?” “Ah, it’s a darn miracle.” “You were so darn smart, much smarter than your brothers – we didn’t want it to go to your head. So we pushed you. And it’s a good thing that we did, because if we didn’t – you wouldn’t have made it.” And Vince said he felt the ‘stuff’ falling on his head again, and he started to cry.
His father was taken aback by his tears. “Didn’t you know that your mom and I loved you no matter what?” “No, I didn’t get that.”
Was there ever a time when you lacked for anything you needed? Didn’t you always have clothes to wear and books for school? When I lost my job, did you ever not have food on the table? Didn’t you know that no matter what you did or what you chose to do, we’d be there to love you?”
“No dad, I didn’t get the message, because you only told it to me one way.”
Vince said he walked on, out on the breakfront there on the coast, leaving his dad on the beach and prayed and reflected. “Here was this man who had all this love in his heart for his son, and I never got the message, because he only tried to tell that to me one way.” And I made a vow there on the edge of the ocean, that with whatever I had left in my life, I would use it telling people how important they are and how loved they are. Because the Good news is too important to be shared in only one way.
So what does it take to tell your mom/dad/son/daughter that you love them so much? How much does it cost you to call that brother who is living in Texas and spend time telling him how much he matters to you? What would it be like for you, instead of ‘doing something’ for your aging mom, taking her out to dinner instead? Let her know how important she is by the time you spend with her.
Sow the seed extravagantly. Because we dare not take the chance that the message won’t get through. In a thousand ways we must tell our children we love them; our neighbors that they matter; our community – that together we are sent to bring the kingdom. Throw the seeds of love recklessly – because love is powerful and the more you sow in the world, the more amazing the result. Practically, pick ONE area this week to sow some seeds – take the kids to a ball game, go to dinner and movie with the spouse, a visit to a shut in, make a holy hour with God – it matters not. But sow extravagantly.
“A sower went to sow some seeds.” So should we. So should we…