The psalmist affirms that God made us, we belong to him, are his people, his flock. God is the Lord, our creator, our shepherd. He is good and his kindness and faithfulness last forever. What is the natural response to such a God? Joyful singing, service, coming before him, thanksgiving, praise, and blessing. Failing to praise and serve God is unnatural. Those who think God is worthy open their mouths and say so and then act upon it.
The Gospel lesson is a simple parable. The sower scatters seed and it either produces a fine harvest or nothing at all, depending on the soil. The disciples did not understand the parable and asked Jesus to explain it. Jesus said, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.” Jesus is not saying that God destined only some people to get it. His own disciples did not get it and had to ask for help. Is that Jesus’ point? His disciples want to know so they seek his help and to them he promises understanding. To those who do not seek, do not strive to know, do not explore, think, and pray, these parables are merely nice little stories. Jesus promises that those who truly look will see and those who truly listen will understand. That is a fantastic promise but it is also a challenge for us to get beneath the surface of the stories.
The parable is not deterministic. Jesus does not say that we are destined to be a certain type of soil and there is nothing we can do about it. We can pray that God will turn our hard, crusty hearts into hearts of flesh that are able to receive and keep God’s word. We can work to go deeply into the love of God so that the word cannot easily be snatched away. We can also take definite steps to simplify our lives and disentangle ourselves from the anxieties, riches, and pleasures of this life which choke our faith. Finally, even the good soil Christians are not those who have no say in the matter, as if God simply chose them, makes them good soil, and that is that. No, the rich soil people are those who embrace the word and then persevere. This calls us to effort, struggle, and pain. Only God can create a generous and good heart within us but, even after he does this, we must embrace the word of God with our whole being and hold on for dear life. God promises a mature, rich harvest but it is not automatic, not without effort, and not apart from the desire for it. God, in his grace, produces the seed. We work on the soil. And God grants the increase.
Let’s get busy.
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