Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.
Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that
‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”
And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Growing up, when I heard this passage, I was always so concerned with what sort of “ground” I was, thinking I must be only one of the four. The path? Rocky ground? Ground with thorns? Rich soil? Now I believe I move between the four types on a regular basis. Why is this? Why is it that at times I can listen to God’s word, truly hear what God is inviting me to, and respond accordingly? Why is it that at times God’s word seems so distant, seemingly snatched up by the birds of sky?
In the First Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises, we pray for the strength to let go of “inordinate attachments,” anything that might keep me from being my best self and fully responding to God. For me that means letting go of fear, shame, and the need to control, or as Jesus says in today’s parable, the path, the rocky ground or the ground with thorns.
—Tom Drexler is the Executive Director of the Ignatian Spirituality Project, a ministry providing Ignatian retreats to men and women experiencing homelessness.
God help me to let go of the desire to be rich soil, allowing your word to take root.