|Melinda James ‘97 M.A.
The parable of the sower and the seeds is one of Jesus’ most familiar parables. It is also one of the most unusual parables because, later on in this chapter from the Gospel of Matthew (in the longer from reading for today), Jesus goes on to explain the meaning of the parable. Usually, Jesus leaves his parables open-ended, highly metaphorical, slightly enigmatic, and open to the interpretation of the hearer.
In his explanation of the parable, Jesus recounts how each example of where the seeds fall and how they grow represent different types of believers and the result of how the Gospel takes root in their lives. Of course, we all want to be like the “seeds [that] fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold.” There is a way of reading this gospel as a cautionary tale. Don’t be like the seeds that fell on rocky ground! Don’t be like the seeds that fell among the thorns! There is another way of reading this parable that invites us to consider how we have been like each of the different types of seeds at different times in our lives.
Instead of viewing this parable as describing mutually exclusive options, we can use all of the examples in the story to reflect on our lives. When did my faith grow quickly but then wither away just as fast because it did not have deep roots? What have been the thorns in my life that prevent my faith from flourishing? And, just as importantly, what has been the fertile ground in my life that has allowed my faith to grow and bear fruit? What is the fruit of my faith and how do I share it with others?
I cannot give examples for all of these here, but suffice it to say that I have experienced all these “growing conditions” in my faith life. I hope that recognizing the rocks and the thorns will make my roots grow even deeper.