The 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time at St Mark the Evangelist Church in Norman, OK
July 14, 2002
Isaiah 55:10-11 + Romans 8:18-23 + Matthew 13:1-23
Bob Dylan wrote a short parable for the cover of his album John Wesley Harding. Three kings are trying to understand the new Dylan recording. They visit a wise man and ask him to tell them what it means. “How far would you like to go in?” asks the man. “Not too far.” Reply the kings. “Just far enough to say we’ve been there.”
“Just far enough to say we’ve been there.”………
It could be the story of our lives when it comes to the Kingdom of God. “How far would you like to go in?” It could be the story of our lives with the Word of God. Some will say, “Just far enough to say we’ve been there.”
With these thoughts, we get an interesting “take” on the Parable today from Matthew 13. We are going to be in this chapter for the rest of this month, and I am wondering how far you want to go. You will not go far if you only hear it in here. THE PATH. You will simply be able to say you have been there.
If you pick it up and read it at home the rest of this month, you will have gone a little further. ROCKY GROUND AND THORNS.
If you read it, pray with it, listen to it, and it influences the way your live and what you do the rest of this month, you will have gone all the way in. RICH SOIL.
A parable that originally revealed something about the sower gets retold in the midst of a community that has begun to experience what Jesus himself knew first hand: the unyielding rejection of his works and words by the scribe, Pharisees and other religious authorities of his day; the superficial enthusiasm of the crowds who hung around when he fed them and entertained them, but were no where to be found when he didn’t do what they wanted, his own family’s misgivings about his mission, and the confusion and lack of comprehension on the part of his own closest friends and disciples. Talk about Rocky Ground and Thorns!
Between the time Jesus told a parable about a sower who was generous in sowing the seed far and wide, and the time Matthew took the story and retold it in the midst of their experience of rejection and misunderstanding and superficial commitments on the part of many, the parable becomes an allegory about the harvest. We would do well to embrace the whole picture from parable to allegory remembering the sower-God that Jesus reveals with an invitation to imitate that generous mission, and the soil into which it is sown with its encouragement to be rich soil – open to what is sown in our hearts, and anxious to see a great harvest spring for our faithful lives.
We are a believing community invited to be renewed in our efforts at hearing, bearing, and living in accord with God’s good Word. Isaiah speaks to us today of the power of that Word to create, to inform, and to realize what has been promised. “How far would you like to go with that Word?” I ask you today. If you want to do more than simply say you’ve been here, then take no offense and be not surprised when it gets tough to be faithful to that Word and be recreated and reformed by it. The promise we proclaim on this day however, is that those who will go all the way in will know a harvest greater than ever before imagined. How far do you want to go?