Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Do you remember when you had to help your children with their homework?  Or maybe even more recently your grandchildren?  When it is 9 o’clock at night and there is still another page of questions to answer we are tempted to simply start supplying the answers.  Don’t worry about explaining the beauty of the Pythagorean Theory, just calculate the side of the triangle and be done with it!  But the next time, if we start earlier on the homework, maybe 4 in the afternoon, we change our style and try to help our children learn the steps to solving the problem and let them find the answers for themselves.  It is the classic “teach them how to fish rather than just handing them a fish.”

That was how Jesus taught and why he taught in parables.  He gave them a lot to think about, situations in everyday life they were familiar with, but with a twist, something that would let them find a deeper meaning for their own lives and then apply the lesson!  The Word of God does the same for us today.  It gives us plenty to think about, doesn’t give us simple answers but challenges us to think about what it means for us today, in our lives, in our situation.  That is the beauty of Christ’s parables, they can mean something different to everyone that hears them and every time they hear them.

How do we think about today’s story, as the Parable of the Sower?  If the sower is God then we have a crazy God, a God who lavishly scatters his seed, His love, everywhere, wastefully.  God’s love is wide, abundant, prodigal, and inclusive.  A love that seeks out those “other sheep who are not of this fold”.  A God who lets His rain, and love, fall on the good and the bad.  Jesus’ desire to reach everyone always overrides his concern for purity and worthiness. He associates and dines with sinners without setting any prior moral conditions that have to be met before those sinners are deemed worthy of his presence. Unfortunately, sometimes we want to keep certain people away from God because we have decided they are unworthy.  We need to be more like the sower.

Or is it the Parable of the Seed?  The seed that was recklessly scattered is simply love freely given, without expectation of return or payback. True love is wanting the best for the other, even when that love isn’t returned, doesn’t multiply.  If the seed sprouts, good, if not, there is always more where that came from.  How stingy are we with our love?  Do we only love those who will love us back and forget about the crabby neighbor?

Could this story be called the Parable of the Soil?  If so, is it just about good soil?  But 75% of the soil isn’t good so maybe the real story is how does God deal with bad soil?  He just keeps scattering seeds, love, on all the soil.  “I came to seek out and save the lost,” “I came to call not the righteous but the sinners.”  Our God loves even the useless earth and scatters seed on it, hoping that one seed will break through.  How do we handle the bad soil in our lives, in our families?  The children and grandchildren that no longer go to church, that are divorced, living together unmarried.  Do we keep scattering seeds, love on that soil?

Is this really the Parable of the Harvest?  You see it only takes a few seeds to germinate to result in a harvest of 30, 60, 100 fold, unimaginable!  But the hospitality, the welcoming, the love that we show to others can result in a huge harvest.  When we welcome non-Catholics at a funeral, open not just our church but our arms to them, the harvest can be great.  Do we sit with them at the reception or stay at our exclusive all Catholic table?  Do we seek out the fallen away Catholics right here in the Village and invite them home?

Parables can have different meanings for different hearers.  They invite us to move into them and take them into ourselves.  And respond.  They are not for information only, they call for action, change.  “Whoever has ears ought to hear!”