The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke. (8:5-15)
Today’s gospel reading is a familiar one, or should be familiar to us. All of the teachings of the gospels should be near and dear to us. We should know them. They should be as close to us as our nearest breath. They are the blood that runs through the veins of someone who calls himself a Christian. If we had just a small realization of what Our Lord Jesus Christ offers us in the gospels, we would gladly leave everything else behind to devote ourselves to studying the words of our Lord. We look to self help books and musical lyrics and personality tests and the opinions and tweets of celebrities but these are all like fools gold for a Christian. There is a reason why the gospel book is wrapped in gold plating. It symbolizes the precious value of the words and deeds of our Lord Jesus Christ as they have been revealed to us.
And this is exactly the point of the parable we heard today. It is about how precious the words of the Lord are to each one of us. The Lord tells us about the sower who was throwing seeds everywhere in the hopes of a good harvest. He then tells us that the seed is the word of God. If the seed is the word of God then of course the ultimate sower or planter of that seed is the Lord Himself. His goal is to spread the seed of His word all over the face of the earth. The face of the earth is the heart of each human. The Lord is hungry for us. He wants to reach us, to touch our hearts.
We are told by Our Lord Jesus that as the seed is thrown, some of the seed lands in different types of soil. By this He indicates to us that the soil of people’s hearts can differ. Just like real soil. Not all soil is good for bringing forth a harvest. Likewise, not all hearts are equal in their quality. What is the criteria for the quality of the soil of our hearts? Our ability to hold on to the seeds given to us by God and to nurture them to maturity.
In some ways it is of little consequence what type of Christian you are today. It is of great consequence what type of Christian you will be a year from now, ten years from now, 50 years from now. We know the seed that we have each been given is of impeccable and unmatched quality. But are we able to hold and protect and nurture and bring those seeds to life in our lives? That’s the question. What type of Christian will you be in the future? What type of Christian will you be at the end of your life? Will you even be a Christian at the end of your life? What type of soil will the Lord discover when He judges our hearts and our deeds at the great and final judgment?
It is always such a joy to see the young kids going to Sunday school and doing their arts and crafts and learning their Bible stories. The seeds are planted when they are young. They are full of joy about the things of God. But what happens to them as they grow? As a priest for nearly two decades I have seen them grow and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some grow into maturity in their Christian faith. I’ve experienced the sadness of seeing some who had great potential become virtually indistinguishable from the people of the world around them. If it is a sadness for us, imagine the Lord’s sadness to see His children lost and confused and scattered. What causes the different outcomes? Why do some shine like the stars in their love for God while others lives are a mess? It comes back to the heart.
If my heart is consumed and filled with the things of the world, its possessions, its thinking, its desires, its darkness, then this chokes out the desire for God. Instead of nurturing the word of God that resides within us, we end up nurturing the darkness and neglecting the good seed.
When we read the gospels we are regularly confronted with the challenge to discern our lives and our actions and to see whether we are on the right path, the narrow path, the path of light. We look at our daily activities and ask ourselves “Do these choices I make glorify God and demonstrate that I am living the gospel in my own life?” (Not my version or portions of the gospel, but the actual gospel of Christ). Do the things that I watch and read and listen to and aspire to inflame my love for God or do they inflame my desires for the world and the life of sin? Does my life glorify God?
St. Gregory of Sinai writes, “People who have received grace are as if impregnated and with child by the Holy Spirit; but they may abort the divine seed through sinning, or divorce themselves from God through intercourse with the enemy lurking within them. It is the turbulence of the passions that aborts grace, while the act of sinning deprives us of it altogether.”
Only one type of seed deserves my attention and focus. Only one should be nurtured to maturity. Only one can bring me back to life and make me truly human. So we ask God to help us nurture good thoughts, good words, good deeds and everything that reflects His presence within us. In the spiritual life we take one step towards Christ and He is delighted and in His mercy and love towards us, He provides the grace to assist us in the struggle to take another thousand steps towards Him, to make Him our priority and the focus of our life for He is the way, the truth and the life. Amen.