Sunday, July 16, 2017

the parable of the sower: many are called, but how many answer?

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our Gospel reading today is the parable of the Sower – one of the most well known of all the parables. As well it might be, for its theme is of tremendous importance: how it is that a child of God, created in his image and likeness, is to behave in the face of Divine Revelation, how it is they are to receive his Holy Word that he has given to them by means of the Sacred Scriptures and the Person of His Only Begotten Son, the second person of the Blessed Trinity.

Our Lord gives us four examples of how people might behave; but we might break them down into three categories. The first concerns those who hear the word of God and reject it; the second those who hear the word and accept it – and then live as though they do not; and the third those who hear and obey and whose faithfulness is shown through their fruitfulness.

Concerning the first group, those who reject the word, Christ gives two reasons for their behaviour. Those he compares to the path are led astray by the Evil One; and those to the rocky ground, at first believe and then fall away at the first sign of any trouble that may come as a result of being a believer in Christ. They will not carry the Cross. It is important to note here that Christ does not offer these reasons so as to some way excuse what they have done. He is simply stating why they have acted as they did; but the responsibility for their actions remain their own. We might do well to think of our Lord's own sobering words spoken in the final chapter of St Mark's gospel where, having told his disciples to  ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.' he continued by saying: 'The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.'

The second category are those whose faith Christ describes as being as if it had been choked by thorns. They have accepted the faith – but then been led astray by the cares of the world and the lure of material gain; they do not reject the faith publicly, but they have become 'unfruitful' ... effectively they may as well have renounced the faith for all the good it does them – and their example certainly does nothing to bring others to the faith. We may think here of the parable of the talents and of the servant who did nothing with his master's property but bury it in the ground. His reward was to be cast out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth – words that the Fathers of the Early Church always understood to mean as being damned.

And then finally we come to the last category, those who not only have heard the word, but understand and obey, and are fruitful as a result. Some of course will be more fruitful than others; but in that regard it is again useful to consider the parable of the talents. In that also some were more fruitful than others – but all heard the blessed words 'well done, good and faithful servant' and were called by their master to enter into his joy – which, again, has always been held to mean eternal life in heaven.


And as I reach the end, let me leave you with one further thought. It has no doubt struck you, if not today then on some previous occasion when you were reading this parable, that of all the examples our Lord gives, only one group is found to hear and understand, only one to be fruitful, only one to end in the place where all were created to be. All heard the word, all were called; but few responded, few were chosen, few were found worthy of eternal life with our Father in heaven. And this is sad indeed: freely was God's word and grace offered; but freely it was rejected. It remains for us to pray that those who hear but do not respond will be converted in their hearts; that those who hear and believe but then still fail to live as if they did will repent while time remains; and for us to pray that when the time comes we will be numbered among those who are found fruitful, among those blessed to hear the words 'well done good and faithful servant', among those called to enter into the joy of our master. All that indeed is something that we all should pray for not just daily, but unceasingly, in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

No comments:

Post a Comment