The Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 8:18-23; Matt 13:1-23.
By Fr. Augustine Agwulonu, OP.
Theme: The Sower, the Seed, the Sowing, and Superabundant Fruit.
The process involving sowing the seed, its growth, and production of fruit might appear challenging and rough. The inimical forces can make the cultivation to appear like a futile endeavour. However, the production of superabundant fruit is certain: hundred-fold, sixtyfold, and thirty-fold. Our loving God, like the Sower of viable seeds, faithfully and generously sows his Word in human hearts and this Word produces wonderful result in graciousness, salvation, and sanctification.
Analysis and Meaning of Matt 13:1-23.
If we take the long version of today’s Gospel reading, we can divide the text into three major parts:
The first division is a beautiful parabolic poetic text. It is the unit of text in Matt 13:3- 9. In this part of the Gospel passage, Jesus tells the parable in public; to a multitude of the people. His disciples are with him, and they also hear this remarkable parable. One of the interesting observations about this parable is the way and manner that the Sower sows the seeds. He generously throws and scatters them in such a way that some even fell on grounds that are inimical to their survival. When we apply this to the Word of God, we can observe its spreading to far and wide. The Word is active and vulnerable. It challenges and it is challenged. This continues until the Word triumphs in growth and in the production of superabundant fruit. It is not the inimical forces of annihilation and destruction of the seeds that carry the day, but rather, it is the good soil that produces the rich harvest of abundant fruit.
The second part of the parable narrates Jesus’ conversation with his disciples while they are alone by themselves. Firstly, the Lord reveals it to them that they are a privileged group. He says, “because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you…” Secondly, the Lord tells his disciples why he speaks to “them” (those outside the circle of the disciples) in parables. According to the text, the reason is to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah, which highlights the “peoples’” hardness of heart and their strong headedness. This attitude hinders the fruitful hearing of the Word. Those who do not listen to the Word properly are not enriched by it. Thus, the Lord says, “to anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” If you are reading this reflection, then I believe you are among the privileged disciples of Jesus, to whom he reveals the mysteries of God’s kingdom. It means that you have and more is being given to you in order that you would even be enriched further. And so, the Word of God, which the Sower’s seed symbolizes, can only deepen and increase the knowledge of those who faithfully, lovingly, and with confidently meditate on it day and night. This is the reason that the parable concludes with the saying: “whoever has ear let him hear.” This parable invites us to always listen attentively to God’s Word. Such a listening would make us superabundantly rich in God’s grace.
The third and final part of the parabolic narrative contains the Lord’s interpretation of the parable to his disciples. He likens the Sower’s seed to God’s Word. Let us observe that God’s Word is not simply sound and air, but rather grace, power, spirit, and strength. The Word of God quickens God’s children. Like the disciples of Jesus, whenever we seek to understand the Word of God through meditation and reflection, the Lord always increases our joy, happiness, and our faithfulness to God and we express loving care for our neighbours.
In general, the parable of the Sower reveals that God controls the process of sowing his Word in his children’s hearts. He nurtures it until fruition in good works. The responsorial Psalm sings to God’s care for the human heart represented by the “land” (Ps 65:10,11,12- 13,14). The first verse says: “You have visited the land and watered it; greatly have you enriched it. God’s watercourses are filled; you have prepared the grain.”
And we can add that God also plants the Word in his children and sees to it that they produce “the first fruits of the Spirit,” as St. Paul tells states in the 2nd reading today. The first reading says that the Word of God must achieve its purpose before returning to the Lord, from whom it proceeds. And so, the Good News of the parable of the Sower is that the Word of God flourishes and reveals the benevolent mysteries of God’s kingdom. We must never lose heart and hope because the Word of God must accomplish its purpose in our lives and experiences.
Finally, in the sacred and silent moments of our meditations on God’s Word, the Lord Jesus Christ explains the mysteries of God’s kingdom to us. He encourages us and urges us on the route of righteousness, on the path of patience, and on the fellowship of faith in God’s plan and design for our salvation and sanctification through the power of the Holy Spirit.