Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 (NRSV)
13That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: "Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!" 18"Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."
When the disciples are puzzled by Jesus’ teaching in parables, he calls them blessed to have been given the secrets of the kingdom. They are being called to hear the word of the kingdom and to use every opportunity to tell of God’s amazing, surprising presence and power in the world. Later in Matthew’s gospel, we too are commissioned to sow seed: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them … , and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20).
What an awesome responsibility on behalf of those waiting to hear God’s word! But we do not sow seed alone. Other disciples go with us sharing their unique gifts. The Holy Spirit empowers us to do God’s will and promises that the word of God we share will not return empty. This is the magnificent power and grace of God who produces a crop a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what we expect. Thanks be to God.
Lord, open my eyes and ears to hear your word more clearly and to see more clearly who is waiting to hear of your amazing love and forgiveness. Amen.