Today’s Gospel has Jesus telling us the parable of the sower. This story has so many implications and important themes for a modern world. It would seem that too many have uncultivated hearts where the seed of the Good News falls on rocky soil and bears no growth. Also, too often we spend our lives planting seeds where little or no growth is possible. This theme is one that strikes me hard as I sit in Omaha at the end of the Gallup Strengths Summit.
As individuals, we often spend too much energy and time trying to be someone we are not. We think that if we try hard enough, we will be able to completely change ourselves. Primarily, we think we can make our shortcomings and weaknesses go away. The reality is that horse will never fly, but they could run fast enough to win a Triple Crown. Meanwhile, a bird will never run like a horse, but might be able to soar high enough to reach the top of a mountain.
As communities, we also spend much of our time fixing problems and trying to create a reality that will never come to pass. We try to force people into roles they have no skills and talents for and we cling to a belief that there is a single way of getting things done: our way. The reality is that a community is the sum of its members and if the members are not enabled to reach the tops of their mountains, the community will never find true success. In a church, that means that the community will never be able to clearly reflect the Kingdom of God and will not fulfill their role in sharing the Good News.
The quote of the day from the Summit is “Focus on what is STRONG, not on what is WRONG.” If God is in control, God will provide each of us and our communities what is needed to sow good seed and reap a rich harvest. But if we focus on what we don’t have, we place our trust not in God, but in a lie that we can create the harvest alone by throwing seeds wherever we feel like. I have been in parish ministry too long to not realize that much of what we do in the Church is simply trial and error, and most of the time we are simply trying to fix something.
This is not a call for a simple exercise of positivity. Ignoring what is wrong will not makethe weakness disappear. But leaning on what is STRONG, and managing what is WRONG will yield the greatest harvest. Let’s make a commitment to stop trying to sow seed where it will not grow. Instead, let’s put our efforts into that which God has already provided, and one day, the harvest will be fuller than we could have imagined.