When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that ‘they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.'” And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”
Our reading provides the interpretation of the Parable of the Sower (sometimes called the Parable of the Soils) from yesterday’s pericope. We know that this parable is important for us to pay attention to given that it is also found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke as well. The word parable comes from the Greek parabolé meaning to cast beside or to come alongside. Jesus uses parables in order to “come alongside” his disciples and those who would hear his words as he sort to teach important truths about the kingdom of God. As Jesus speaks there are many different reactions to him and to his message as the parable reflects. We come to understand from Jesus that those whose hearts are hard, shallow, or distracted do not gain the lasting benefit from Jesus’ ministry or God’s Word.
I believe Jesus’ hope is that as we hear and obey God’s Word, God’s truth and love will penetrate our hearts and lives. Jesus is not trying to obscure the truth, but is trying to nurture a hunger for truth and the Good News in our hearts, so that we may seek a closer and deeper relationship with God. Lent provides us with the opportunity to make the soil of our hearts more receptive to God’s Word and to remember that Jesus comes alongside us in the process. As part of the invitation to the Lenten season, we are called to observe these days “by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” Let us pray that God will give us insight into his Word and the desire to grow in faith.
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP, Collect for Proper 28)