Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Matthew 13: 1-23

"Imagine a sower going out to sow"

Today's gospel passage is usually referred to as the Parable of the Sower. Some people, however, suggest that it might more properly be called the "Parable of the Soils". The focus of the story is not so much the sower who performs his task competently, nor the seed which is perfectly good, but the different kinds of terrain on which the seed falls. Jesus uses this agricultural image to explain why some people will accept and others will reject his word.

Those who first heard the parable would have appreciated the image immediately. This is the normal rhythm of farming, from sowing to harvesting, on which their lives were built. Their land had good soil, for sure, but they knew also the hazards represented by the birds, the rocky ground, and the thick-rooted thistles. Even so, Jesus reminds them, the seeds that escape these hazards will go on to produce their crop - thirty, sixty or even a hundredfold.

So it is, says Jesus with the word of the kingdom. The soils represent the different conditions of heart among his listeners. By his own personality and his actions as well as by his words, Jesus has proclaimed the kingdom of God. Among his hearers, some were totally opposed to him; others were welcoming but shallow; and others again were distracted by the attractions of this world; and still others were open, receptive and responsive. The hazards, the barriers and blockages to the kingdom are real and varied. But, says Jesus, despite all the barriers, the word will go on bearing fruit; God's kingdom will grow. Today he challenges each of us to recognise the barriers to that growth, in ourselves individually and in the world around us, and to ask will we be part of that growth. Is my heart really in it?