Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Why would God sow seeds he knows will bear little or no fruit? A further reflection on...
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | 7/14/2014 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 07/14/2014 1:27:57 AM PDT by markomalley

We heard the parable of the Sower at Yesterday’s Sumday Mass. Someone asked me a question: Since the sower is the Son of Man, Jesus himself, why would the Lord, who knows everything ahead of time, sow seed he knew would not bear fruit?

First, let’s review the text:

“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Matt 13:1-9)

So the question presents, Why then would God waste any seed on rocky or thin soil, or the path?

Perhaps a series of possible “answers” is all we can venture. I place “answers” in quotes since we are in fact touching on some mysteries here of which we can only speculate. So, here are some “answers.”

I. God is extravagant - it is not just seed He scatters liberally, it is everything. There are hundreds of billions of stars in over 100 billion galaxies, most of these seemingly devoid of life as we understand it. Between these 100 billion galaxies are huge amounts of what seems to be empty space. On this planet, where one species of bird would do, there are thousands of species, tens of thousands of different sorts of insects, a vast array of different sorts of trees, mammals, fish etc. “Extravagant” barely covers it. The word “extravagant” means “to go, or wander beyond.” And God has gone vastly beyond anything we can imagine. But God is love, and love is extravagant. The image of him sowing seeds, almost in a careless way is thus consistent with the usual way of God.

This of course is less an answer to the question before us than a deepening of the question. The answer, if there is one, is caught up in the mystery of love. Love does not say, what is the least I can do? It says “What more can I do?!” If a man loves a woman, he does not look for the cheapest gift on her birthday, rather he looks for an extravagant gift. God is Love and God is extravagant.

II. Even if the failed seed represents those who ultimately reject him, God loves that seed anyway. Remember, as Jesus goes on to explain, the seeds that fail to bear fruit, are symbols of those who allow riches, worldly preoccupation, persecution and other things to draw them away from God. But, even knowing this, does not change God’s love for them. He still wills their existence. Scripture says elsewhere, But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt 5:44-45).

Yes, God loves even those who will ultimately reject him and will not, knowing ahead of that rejection, say to them, “You cannot exist.” He thus scatters even that seed, knowing ahead of time that it will not bear the fruit He wishes. Further, he continues to send the sun and rain, even on those who will reject him.

Hence this parable shows forth God’s unfailing love. He sows seeds, even knowing they will not bear the fruit he wants. He wills the existence of all, even those who he knows ahead of time will reject him.

III. That God sows seeds and allows them to fall on bad soil is indicative of God’s justice. The various places the seed falls is indicative of human freedom, more than illustrative of the intent of God. For one may still question, “Why would God “allow” seed to fall on the path, or among thorns, or in rocky soil?” And the only answer here is that God has made us free.

Were the Lord to take back the seeds that fell in unfruitful places one could argue that God withdrew his grace and that one was lost on account of this, namely that God manipulated the process by withdrawing every possible grace. But God, in justice calls everyone and offers sufficient grace for all to come to faith and salvation. And thus the sowing of the seed everywhere is indicative of God’s justice.

IV. The variety of outcomes teaches us to persevere and look to faithfully sowing, rather than merely to the harvest. Sometimes we can become a bit downcast when it seems our work has born little fruit. And the temptation is to give up. But, as an old saying goes, “God calls us to be faithful, not successful.” In other words, it is up to us to be the means the means whereby the Lord sows the seed of his Word. The Word is in our hands, by God’s grace, but the harvest is not.

This parable teaches us that not every seed we sow will bear fruit. In fact a lot of it will not, for the reasons described by the Lord in a later part of the parable.

The simple mandate remains ad is this: preach the Word, Go unto all the nations and make disciples.  St. Paul would later preach to Timothy: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction (2 Tim 4:2). In other words, sometimes the gospel is accepted, sometimes it is rejected. Preach it any way. Sometimes the gospel is popular, sometimes not. Preach it anyway. Sometimes the Gospel is in season, sometimes it is out of season. Preach it anyway. Sow the seeds, don’t give up.

Discharge your duty! St. Paul goes on to sadly remark, For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Tim 4:3-5). Once again the message is the same: preach anyway, sow the seed of the Word, persevere, do not give up, do not be discouraged. Discharge your duty and be willing to endure hardship, just preach! Some of the seed will yield a rich harvest, some will not, preach anyway.

So, permit these “answers.” God sows seed he knows will bear no fruit because he is extravagant, because he loves and wills the existence even of those he knows will reject him, because of his justice, and to teach us to persevere, whatever the outcome.


TOPICS: Catholic
KEYWORDS: msgrcharlespope

1 posted on 07/14/2014 1:27:58 AM PDT by markomalley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: AllAmericanGirl44; Biggirl; Carpe Cerevisi; ConorMacNessa; Faith65; GreyFriar; Heart-Rest; ...

Msgr Pope ping


2 posted on 07/14/2014 1:28:51 AM PDT by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Good read. Thanks


3 posted on 07/14/2014 1:44:53 AM PDT by Faith65 (Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

There was never anything wrong with the seed or the sower only where it was received or not.


4 posted on 07/14/2014 1:50:09 AM PDT by melsec (Once a Jolly Swagman camped by a Billabong.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: melsec

Exactly.


5 posted on 07/14/2014 2:40:34 AM PDT by ScubieNuc (When there is no justice in the laws, justice is left to the outlaws.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Because some people’s best use is to serve as a bad example for others?


6 posted on 07/14/2014 2:41:26 AM PDT by T-Bird45 (It feels like the seventies, and it shouldn't.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

This explains things to me, thank you for posting.


7 posted on 07/14/2014 3:18:29 AM PDT by joyce11111 (he police minute)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; ...

Ping!


8 posted on 07/14/2014 4:29:55 AM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley
"Why then would God waste any seed on rocky or thin soil, or the path?"

Perhaps so that none will have any excuse when they finally stand before the Lord on Judgment day. Nobody can say, "Why didn't you tell me" or "I didn't know"

9 posted on 07/14/2014 4:39:30 AM PDT by circlecity
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

First of all, what does a seed need to bear any fruit at all?

Second, does the seed on rocky ground or near thorns represent the lost? or does it represent unproductive christians?

The question here in the thread title can be summarized or simplified by asking; “Why does God allow evil to exist at all?”

It is my opinion that the parable relates to those who will be lost verses those who will find Christ... NOT those christians who will fail in their commission vs those christians who will bear fruit.

Therefore, I think we should make sure we should understand the question before using the object scripture to answer it.

I am not saying that anything said here so far is wrong.
However, I frequently do see scripture that is indicative of a lost condition used to teach or discipline those in Christ. I’m not so sure that is wise.


10 posted on 07/14/2014 4:46:58 AM PDT by Safrguns (PM me if you like to play Minecraft!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Also too this also talks about those who come to faith in the Lord even at their deathbeds.


11 posted on 07/14/2014 4:51:18 AM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: T-Bird45; ScubieNuc; joyce11111; melsec; markomalley
Because some people’s best use is to serve as a bad example for others?

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, a specialist in the interpretation of scripture, provides us with some additional insight into this parable.


I’ve always loved gardening.  Seeds I’ve planted include carrot, cucumber, and of course, zucchini.  In each case, I’ve planted seeds in neat rows, expecting nearly all of them to sprout and yield fruit.

 

But the farmer in Jesus’ parable (Mat 13:1-23) uses the broadcast method.  Lots of seed cast everywhere.  And predictably, many of these seeds do not produce.  Some get eaten by birds.  Some sprout but then wither. Some seedlings get choked out by weeds.  Finally a few yield varying amounts of grain.

 

At the end of the story, Jesus says “they who have ears, let them hear.”  In other words, he wants us to learn something and take some action steps.

 

To respond to this parable adequately, we must view it from two different angles.  The first is to look at the story as if we are the seed.  Many who hear the gospel never seem to “get it.”  The message is stolen before it ever takes root.  Then there are the 50% of Catholic kids who receive the sacraments but disappear somewhere between age 18 and 35.  Shallow roots fail to equip them to take the heat of our pagan culture.  Then there are the 89% of lifelong, regular churchgoers who, according to George Gallup, have values and lifestyles identical to those of their pagan neighbors.  Their faith has been neutralized by bad theology and worldliness so though they look like wheat plants, their religion is fruitless.  Then there are those who stay out of serious sin, manage to do some good for some people, but all in all produce a mediocre harvest  Finally come the few who are not satisfied with just getting by.  They sink their roots deep into Scripture, Tradition, prayer and the sacraments, and produce a bumper crop.  We call these people saints.

 

Pope John Paul II< Mother Theresa, Saints, Catholic Faith

In speaking to us as seed, Jesus is saying: “be careful. If you don’t make the effort to get thoroughly rooted in your Catholic faith, you just might not make it.  If you do manage to survive, you might produce absolutely nothing.  But you are called to bear much fruit (John 15), to yield 100 fold, to be a saint, to leave a mark on the lives of many that will last forever.  Don’t settle for anything less!”

 

On the other hand, we can look at the parable as if we were the farmer. Vatican II and all the Popes since have stately repeatedly and unequivocally that each of us is called to be an evangelizer, to tell others that Jesus Christ changes lives eternally and that the place to encounter him most fully is within the Catholic Church.  “But,” you may protest, “I tried it a few times and got nowhere.  I just don’t have the personality, don’t have the gift”

 

Jesus, the Son of God, indisputably had both the personality and the gift.  Yet when he sowed seed, much of it still ended up as bird food.  Consider the thousands he fed with loaves and fishes, the multitude that heard his sermon on the mount, the throngs that welcomed him on Palm Sunday.  Yet on the day of Pentecost, there were only 120 left in the cenacle, awaiting the Holy Spirit.  Notice, though, that the fruit borne by these 120 plants eventually filled the whole world!

 

Catholic Faith, Growing in Faith

To get the few that bear fruit, lots of seed must be sown by lots of people.  So regardless of whether or not we think we have green thumbs, we farmers are being commanded through this parable to get the seed out there, sowing it everywhere we go, undeterred by the birds, the weeds, and the scorching sun.

 

So the parable of the sower has a twofold message: as seed, our job is to get busy growing.  As farmers, our job is to get busy sowing.

12 posted on 07/14/2014 4:53:04 AM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: NYer
I preached on this yesterday at Mass. I think the most troubling part of the parable is not the parable itself but the answer Jesus gives to the disciples about why he speaks to people in parables.

He cites the 6th chapter of Isaiah, the commissioning of the prophet by Yahweh. In it, Yahweh tells Isaias to close the people's ears and eyes, make them unable to understand, so that they won't be healed. When Isaiah complains to Yahweh "How long?", Yahweh essentially tells him, until there is only a stump remaining, I.e., until the exile.

The same section of Isaiah is used in all four Gospels in the explanation of why people reject the Gospel.

The commissioning of Isaiah is quite harsh. Attempts to explain away Gods part in the "hardening" of hearts is not easy to do based on the original Hebrew text.

The seemingly simple question of the disciples, "Why do you speak tp them in parables?" gets a complex answer because it strikes at the heart of a divine mystery: the interaction of Gods grace and mans free will.

After prayer and research, this struck me as the crux of the parable and it's what I talked about.

13 posted on 07/14/2014 5:09:15 AM PDT by johniegrad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

Very good thoughts. I found myself thinking about the same thing yesterday. I also see the surface of the land similar to the surface of our souls...often made dry and hard or full of thorn bushes because of the choices we’ve made. Rocky soil could be comparable to the situations into which some are born...but haven’t we all seen trees growing out of a very rocky cliff side? There is NO doubt that God is exceedingly generous. ;-)


14 posted on 07/14/2014 5:27:41 AM PDT by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo....Sum Pro Vita - Modified Descartes)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: johniegrad

I preached on this yesterday at Mass.

_______________________

Are you a deacon or a priest?


15 posted on 07/14/2014 5:32:52 AM PDT by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo....Sum Pro Vita - Modified Descartes)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: SumProVita

Permanent deacon.


16 posted on 07/14/2014 5:34:09 AM PDT by johniegrad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

God gave us each “Free Will”.

It was not God’s intention to create Heaven on Earth.


17 posted on 07/14/2014 6:07:36 AM PDT by G Larry (Which of Obama's policies do you think I'd support if he were white?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

The seed is the word of God, ain`t it?


18 posted on 07/14/2014 6:13:23 AM PDT by ravenwolf
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: markomalley

If God controlled the sowing of seeds to be only those of exemplary servants of God, He would not be the God of free will I know. That He is not trapped by time and knows the outcome of everything, but allows random germination of random sowing shows He is willing that we choose Him.


19 posted on 07/14/2014 7:20:00 AM PDT by Blue Collar Christian (Just what is the real reason to disarm a law abiding citizen like me?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: circlecity

Could the person who has a hard heart (pathway), or lots of obstacles in their life (rocky ground) or lots of worries (among the thorns) come to God through just one tiny seed that they hear or see?

I think so. God is generous to a fault for he wants all people to come to him.


20 posted on 07/14/2014 8:12:51 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: johniegrad

Congratulations!


21 posted on 07/14/2014 8:16:16 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
"God is generous to a fault for he wants all people to come to him."

I believe he only wants the elect to come to him. But since I don't want to hijack the thread and turn into a free will vs. predestination debate (which inevitibly become nasty and mean spirited, although not by you) I will just agree to disagree with you on this and take comfort in the 90% of Christian theology we do agree on.

22 posted on 07/14/2014 8:20:54 AM PDT by circlecity
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson