August 20, 2023 at Mary Mother of Light Parish in Tequesta, FL
1 Corinthians 3: 1-11 + Luke 8: 1-15
It is important to remember how parables work learning how to listen to them because parables are not our common way of teaching. In the verses of this Gospel proclaimed today, there are two parts. The first is a parable which very likely Jesus actually spoke to the crowds. The second part is likely an addition that Saint Luke needed to write and add for the Gentiles not accustomed to this way of teaching. We should pay more attention to the parable rather than to the allegorical interpretation that Luke has added.
The opening line makes the sower the focus of the parable because that’s what Jesus always wishes to do, reveal the Father. In our times, with tractors opening up the soil, and with machines carefully and orderly dropping seeds in perfect rows, this parable’s image of a sower takes some imagination. The whole idea of throwing seed around everywhere makes no sense at all. Then, the amount of the harvest is staggering, leaving us to be further amazed which is just exactly what a parable should do, surprise and amaze. Another part of parable telling is to get the listener to do some comparison or to contrast a thing or two. In the case of this parable, one part is obviously the Father. The other part is you and me. Forget about being the seed or whatever kind of soil you might want to think you should be. That’s a distraction. This is a call to compare ourselves to God, to check and see how well we do reflect the image and likeness of God in whose image we are made. Remember that?
As Jesus tells this parable to the crowds, he raises the question about how much we are like the Father. Sadly, for many of us, the comparison can be disturbing. We are not always quite as generous with our gifts, with our time, or attention as the Father is who throws that seed everywhere. We like to measure out just how much we can spare or how much someone might deserve. We like to consider whether or not there will be a return on our “investment”, and if there is a risk, we are not likely to take it. And so, the purpose of this parable’s comparison is to give us pause to think again not just about how much like the Father we have become, but also to be reminded that even a little bit, or just a part of what we sow can produce an amazing harvest. It reminds us too that even though there may be failures and disappointments over the failure of what we have done or given to beat fruit, we can be sure that some will produce, and that it will be greater than we could ever imagine.
The parable then reveals something about God and calling for a comparison to check on how much the divine presence, got-like behavior, and expectations have made their way into our hearts, our thinking, and shaped our behavior. Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.