Which Ground Are You On?

Thomas Griffin (7/10/20)

Matthew 13:1-23 – Sunday Gospel

“To anyone who has, more will be given” (Matthew 13:12). Here we have one of the only locations in the Gospels where we are given an inside perspective on life as one of the Twelve. The seed and the sower is a lesson in how many understand the message of God, and what they choose to do with it. 

Christ is traveling from town to town, healing the sick, driving out demons, teaching about the Kingdom of God, and working miracles. Now, the multitudes that surround him are so vast that he must get inside of a boat and teach from the stern as his lectern. Many are coming to see his great wonders and signs, but on this day Jesus will deliver one of his most famous parables. 

A parable is more than a fable with a nice message or a story with a moral to learn. Jesus used parables as brain teasers. He was not playing with people’s minds, but he was attempting to have his listeners, and us, view the world from the divine perspective. There is a reason why even Jesus’ closest friends and followers must ask him what the parable of the sower means after he teaches about it. 

A farmer is planting seeds and casting them about in a liberal manner. Some seeds fall on the path where birds come to devour them (Matthew 13:4). Some seeds fall on soil that was not deep due to rocks that suffocated the nutrients. The plants grew in the soil, but the roots were not deep enough, so the sun scorched them and they withered (Matthew 13:5-6). Some seeds fall on the soil which was surrounded by thorns, the plants sprout but they are strangled by the thorns and die (Matthew 13:7). Finally, some seeds fall on rich soil and multiply by dozens and hundreds over time (Matthew 13:8). Nothing is in the way of their fulfillment and flourishing. 

Jesus finishes his list of teachings, and the disciples approach him to ask why he speaks to the crowds in such a hidden manner (Matthew 13:10). His response? The ways of the kingdom have been revealed to them, but remain hidden from others. Not because God prevents them from understanding, but because they choose to not hear and pay heed to God’s works (Isaiah 6:9-10). 

The ears of the closest disciples are privileged in the sense that they hear what so many choose to avoid. The parable of the sower is actually a declaration on how people view God in their lives. Some hear the word and barely give it a moment’s chance for inception and understanding (Matthew 13:19). Some hear the word of God and understand it, but once difficult times arise they abandon faith because of their superficial roots (Matthew 13:20-21). Some hear God’s truth for what it is, but this truth becomes strangulated, like thorns,  by the allurements of the world and the desire to not go against the tide (Matthew 13:22).

Finally, there are those who hear what God speaks to them, understand its worth, and allow the seed to do its job (Matthew 13:23). The result is a life that springs forth in service, sacrifice, and love for others which multiplies contact with God for those around them.

In our lives, often, there is a rotating door between the different types of ground that we find ourselves in. On occasion we choose to completely ignore God and convince ourselves that his ways are not practical, productive, or necessary; we don’t even give him a chance. Some moments are filled with doubt and the reality of God becomes quickly drowned out by our own flaws and sins; we allow our misconceptions to run the show. 

However, at times, we also find ourselves dialed into the faith; we see and hear God’s presence and we answer the call to be among the ones closest to Christ. Once we accomplish this, by allowing him to conquer our hearts, he brings about a complete renewal in our lives and those around us.

To those who have, more will be given (Matthew 13:12). Not because God chooses to deprive himself from some, but because our soil needs to be tilled. This week, check the ground that you stand on and allow God to bring about abundant fruit. Together, we can change the ground the earth rests on, one batch of soil at a time.

Thomas Griffin teaches Apologetics in the religion department at a Catholic high school on Long Island and lives with his wife. He received a master’s degree in theology and is currently a master’s candidate in philosophy. He writes for several Catholic media outlets.

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