Saturday, July 15, 2017

Gospel text for Sunday 16 July 2017

Matthew 13:1-9,18-23        Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.

Reflection       Who is the sower in this parable? At first glance we might assume it is Jesus, after all he is the one telling the tale  But when we listen carefully to Jesus’ explanation of the parable we notice the Greek word logos, the word of the kingdom, appears four times in four sentences. Surely this word, logos, must be important. It is.

God is the sower, sowing the word, the word that became flesh in the person of Jesus to reveal the will and the way of God to all the world. God is extravagant, sowing the word that is full of grace and truth throughout the world. Just in case you are wondering how broadly God has sown the Word, here is a statistic from The Bible Society of the United Kingdom that reports the number of Bibles printed by 2007 was 7.5 billion, essentially one copy of God's word for each person on earth. That does not take into account all the digital versions we find on our phones. *   

The message is unequivocal.  God is not stingy or exclusionary. God's word is not limited to those who hear the word, understand it and bear good fruit. God’s word is not withheld from us when we hear the word with joy yet as soon as trouble, teasing or ill-treatment arise we withdraw or shy away. Even when we hear God’s word and our desires for security, safety, esteem, power and control choke it out of us like weeds strangling our lives, still the bounteous word is sown.

Here is the twist. God’s word is sown in all flesh. Each one of us is like a seed of God’s word intended to grow and bear fruit as extravagant purveyors of grace and truth. If that sounds like radical marching orders, it is. It is relatively easy to speak of God’s presence and action in our lives to people who are like minded. But, that is not extravagant. In fact it is a bit stingy. We are intended to spread the blessing by scattering the words of our faith on rocks, in the weeds as well as in rich loamy soil. 

The other day someone told me about a friend who recently traveled with her church to Iraq ostensibly to take photographs of the country when in actuality they were passing out Bibles. As the enfleshed word of God these faithful folks continue God's sowing,  scattering the seeds of God's word extravagantly. Most of us are unlikely to travel to Iraq but that does not mean we are not intended to live as revelations of God’s word in the world. What does that look like? Loving our neighbors as well as those who hate or persecute us. Replacing our troubled, unkind, harsh or disagreeable thoughts, words and actions with careful words and compassionate ways. Remembering always that we too are revelations of God’s word sown throughout the earth.

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