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Faith Daily | 17 September 2022

PRAYER of the DAY - APBA p581

O God,

without you we are not able to please you:

mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit

may in all things direct and rule our hearts;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.


GOSPEL for the Day: Luke 8: 4-15


4When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5“A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. 7Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” 9Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’ 11“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. 14As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Kay Murry


This Parable of the Sower is very familiar - it can even seem a bit obvious.


But verse 10, in the quote from Isaiah, seems to say that Jesus tells parables so that even when we listen, we ‘may not understand’! The footnotes in my Bible admit that this is enigmatic ‘and implies that parables deliberately created obscurity while actually revealing a message’.


Two other parables that come to mind certainly did have parts that were ‘hard to perceive’ for the hearers - A GOOD Samaritan? A PRODIGAL son favoured? but because of the unexpected twists in their tales, these parables lead to a greater understanding of the Kingdom, without Jesus explaining them line by line.


The Sower parable doesn’t seem to me to have such a twist, or obscurity - what happens to the respective seeds, considering where they fall, seems very likely. There’s no startlement of the unexpected, as in the parables mentioned above. Except perhaps that a good farmer wouldn’t be expected to potentially waste two-thirds of his seed when sowing… If the seeds are God’s word, it doesn’t seem fair treatment of a loving God to the unproductive two-thirds to have a sower who will set them up for failure! Crop failure would have been a serious thing for farmers then as now, and I can’t see Jesus suggesting we have an incompetent God. So maybe this was a way of riveting attention?


Not only Luke, but Matthew and Mark in their gospels also have Jesus ‘unpacking’ the meaning of this parable to the disciples, who have asked about its meaning. All three gospel writers seem to want at this point to explain Jesus’ use of parables. But the quote from Isaiah is, as mentioned, not exactly encouraging!

In any case, Jesus proceeds to explain the parable at the disciples request. So what is the actual message about how we should and shouldn’t live in the Kingdom of God?


Perhaps the important thing is that we measure ourselves against the various ‘seeds’ in the allegory:-

Do I let ‘the devil’ trample on my belief, so that it is lost to me, and I am lost to the Kingdom of God? (Is ‘the devil’ those who would put me down - stand over me, crush me - or maybe those who would lift me up, but then carry me off with promises of lightness and freedom and ‘take me over,’ devour me?)


Perhaps I’m too often like the rock, initially thrilled by the idea of the Good News, but too hard and unyielding to let it become firmly established in my being. Does making time to pray and reflect become neglected, a chore; is being a patient ‘listening ear’ and support for that tiresome fellow parishioner too much trouble to bother; or does shame of the scandals of the church cause me to ignore the countless Godly things done in Christ’s name, and make me want to turn away?


And those thorns! I haven’t had many heavy cares, but I have had a great deal of pleasures and I feel rich in important things of life: food, shelter, education, and most valuable, relationships. How much have I allowed them to catch me in a self-centred tangle, feeling entitled, forgetting that God is the source of all gifts, so that my growth in faith is stunted and stalled?


Answering those questions honestly shows me that I (maybe most of us) will never be solely a good soil seed.

So to give my best possible fraction of a hundredfold production, I must keep listening, trying to understand, and with the Spirit’s help produce the best actions I can to further God’s Kingdom.


FINAL PRAYER


For dry soil Bruce D. Prewer


Like a morning dew

or as evening showers,

refresh our dry soil

with your grace,

God our hope and joy.

Amen.

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