That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, 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 produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Matthew 13:1-16
We spent part of the weekend planting a small garden in the back yard, along with turning over my mother's flower beds and planting flowers for her. She supervised, but really isn't able to do much gardening in the yard. She still plants and tends the flower boxes on her back deck. We put in tomatoes, eggplant and beans, knowing now, from last year, that the soil did best with these three crops. Everything else was feeble at best. We went with the seeds we know will take hold and produce, keeping realistic about our capacity as well as the garden's capacity.
The people are responding to Jesus in such large amounts that he has to go out in a boat to be heard. And yet, he speaks to them in parables, stories needing interpretation, because of their confusion and their distraction by politics and the veils of religion. The words are clear and yet folks will misuse them if their hearts are unwilling to change. God invites us today to plant gardens of faith with depth and care, feeding the fledgling plants and providing tender care as well as water. We often go for big events of faith and forget the daily, moment by moment, tending of our faith. We are told stories to trigger a deeper response, a deeper meaning. It's time to get busy in our gardens, and to be caretakers for those who cannot right now.
Today, I ask god to give me strength for the long haul. May I be able to tend all the gardens I have been given, to weed and water, to bend and to hoe, so that there is depth and richness to my work and abundance at day's end. May we all be faithful gardeners of the love we have been given by God, tenderly caring for all who come our way, and feeding the weakest and the most vulnerable among us. May God use us as caretakers and stewards of the faith, so that all of our words and actions might be to the glory of God this day.