Jesus uses two or three specific images in today's reading from Mark. I'd like to step aside from the specifics of those images and talk more about this whole general idea of planting seeds, the result of that action, and how it all applies to God and us.
Jesus speaks of the seed being planted and sprouting without further care, and He implies that this is how it is with us. We know that there is much more involved. Even if the farmer does not understand exactly how and why a plant grows, he does know that he needs to do more than simply throw the seed onto the ground.
A farmer chooses his land and clears it, maybe fences it to keep out browsing animals. God, for His part, has chosen us, has placed us in a Christian family, and has given us the rudiments of the faith.
The farmer breaks up the soil and progressively clears out the rocks. We ourselves need to reach out for new invitations from God that will break up our habits, even our good habits, to allow growth; we need God's challenges to slowly break down our hardness of heart in order to let the Spirit in. We also need to remove from our lives all of the impediments to God's life in us: stubborn pride, self-satisfaction, addictions of all sorts, hyperactivity, perfectionism --- we each know, down deep, what we need God to help us purge from our lives so that we can bear His fruits.
While our farmer chooses his seed well in terms of the soil and what he hopes for it, God has a particular call for us based on the situation He has created us in and He expects (or at least looks for) particular fruits from us in those conditions. We might, for example, have a certain education or formation, a certain gift, or a certain kind of faith that is part of our "seed," and that specifies to some extent --- and contributes to --- the gifts the Lord might be looking for.
After the planting, the farmer fertilizes, weeds, and waters his field. We, in turn, must nourish the word (Word) of God within ourselves by prayer, reading, reflection, and a constant attention to rid ourselves of the little things that are ungodly, the things that obstruct the growth of God's life within us. (I think of Saint-Exupéry's Little Prince and his care for his asteroid....)
All of this depends on God's work within us, and yet we ourselves must accept, welcome, and cooperate with Him in order to let God show us the wealth and depth of His love for us and in order to let Him find us bearing the fruits which He desires, being the daughters and sons He loves and has called to life.
I might add that the fruits that we bear are not for ourselves but for others; think of the birds nesting in the mustard bush. But we do find great joy in producing those fruits, and that lies in the tender respect that the Lord shows us in asking for that cooperation.
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