The Parable of the Sower
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.”
I was reminded of the Sower of the Seeds parable when I visited a colleague to say goodbye. My friend who has served as Executive Director for the Office of Catholic Formation and Evangelization in a Southern diocese for the last seven years will be returning home to Philadelphia this summer. We were able to enjoy a short visit last week and reminisced about her time there and the relationship we enjoyed.
If we are lucky, there are few times in our lives when we encounter people who share in our life’s mission and leave us changed. It may be an individual or group who share unique bonds united by mission or purpose. My friend is one of those people. She and I developed a friendship while learning about faith, family, and fun. I remember getting to know her over a meal (meals, coffee…) and collaborating with her on various catechetical initiatives at the diocese.
During our visit she expressed a similar appreciation of our bond and said we shared in lavishly sowing seeds for the kingdom of God. She said “that’s what disciples do!” I was taken aback as I was humbled at her inference that I remotely share in her work, and yet her summation seemed so simple! I had not thought of it in those terms but she was correct.
Lavishly sowing seeds offers a richness that I needed to explore. The term lavish can be characterized by extravagance or squander. At first glance, lavish sowing may seem wasteful, but for the kingdom implies without reservation; it is an intentional effort without critique. We all know sowing is the process of planting seeds. Jesus tells of the sower – some seeds fell on the path, on rocky ground, some among thorns and some on rich soil. We are also aware that the seed Jesus refers to in the parable is the Word of God. A sower might be careful not to waste seed on areas that will not grow, but Jesus knows that we cannot always tell who will represent the path, rocky ground, thorns, or rich soil. Therefore, we must lavishly sow seeds for the kingdom of God.
Before parting each other’s company we agreed we would see each other again. Goodbyes are never easy, but I left with a smile on my face and a new seed in my heart. A disciple of disciples, she will surely be missed in the South, but will be welcomed back to her order and whatever her next mission will be. Only God knows exactly what she will be doing, but one thing is for sure, she’ll be lavishly sowing seeds!