15th Sunday in Ordinary Time. July 16, 2017 [Matthew 13:1-23]
“Hear then the parable of the sower. (Mat 13:18)”
Looking carefully into the parable, we find something strange. The agrarian land in Palestine was not as fertile and arable like many other countries like Indonesia and Philippines. It was expected that some seeds would fall into stony grounds, or be outgrown by the thorny plans. Yet, the Israelite farmers knew very well that seeds were their lifeline and wasting three-quarter of their seeds was just unthinkable. To add to this oddity, Jesus assured that this waste of seeds would be compensated with super abundant result of thirty to hundredfold harvest. A seasoned farmer recognized that an ordinary wheat seed planted in the Palestinian soil would yield just enough for the family. Thus, many of Jesus’ listeners would wonder, “What is he talking about? He is just a carpenter, and now he is talking to us from a boat about agriculture?” Even His disciples were puzzled and approached Him for clarification.
Jesus rarely explained His parables, yet this time, Jesus went to considerable length to reveal the meaning behind His parable. The seed was the metaphor of the Word of God, the sower stood for the preacher or the worker of the Word, and the land symbolized the different recipients. From then on, both the disciples and us, begin to understand the dynamism of preaching. The preaching of the Word has to be done generously and even abundantly for practically all people, even for those who would reject it. The generosity of sowing the Word flows from God who is the Father of all and wants all to come to Him.
Yet, Jesus did not only explain the parable, He gave also the title “Parable of the Sower”. Thus, immediately our attention is called to the sower. Who is this sower? It is all of us. We are called to become the preachers or the co-workers of the Word. Thus we are to spread the Word to all kinds of grounds or people, including those we do not like us, or those who hate us. A parish priest has to keep preaching and serving all his parishioners, not only those who support him, but also those who criticize and reject him. A religious sister who takes care of orphans shall care for all, not only those children who are cute and obedient. A government leader shall work for the betterment of all people in the society, regardless of whether they voted for him or not. The modern-day spouses who often focus more on careers need to be generous in building up the Church and the society through their offspring; parents need to love and educate all their children, regardless of whether the child is their favorite one or not.
The mission of preaching the Word of God is tough because it reflects the generosity and mercy of God. Jesus Himself had to endure this difficulty as His preaching and ministry got misunderstood, rejected, and He himself got persecuted and executed, yet He continued to preach because it was His Father’s will to draw all His children closer to Himself. We are called to be God’s co-workers in sowing God’s word, in contributing in our little yet unique way in the preaching ministry of the Church. Doubtless, to be a sower of the Word is a tough one, yet it is our way of participating in the abundant harvest of God.
Br. Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP