Again Jesus began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that
‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.'”
And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” Mark 4:1-20
This time of year I find myself lovingly looking over seed catalogs and dreaming of the gardens to come. I love growing vegetables, herbs and flowers and set my hopes high on this year's plantings. There is a good deal of work involved in growing plants, starting with the right soil and the right amount of light. Then there is the watering and weeding, the watching and the waiting. Often we find other things to do and fail to care for the tender plants as well as we could. I always imagine a more robust garden than last year.
Jesus likens the life of faith to seeds sown. The disciples and the people who he spoke to often missed the deeper understanding of his stories, and he had to go back over his parables so that his followers could explain it to others. It's a relatively easy thing to plant and scatter seeds, but to see real fruit and transformation, to have seeds break open and take root and thrive into the autumn, there is much more required. We are invited today to examine our hearts and lives this Lent, and to find ways to deepen our care and commitment.
Today I ask God to help me commit my life to bringing forth good fruit. May we be good gardeners, planting deeply and caring for the faith we have been given. May our lives become good fruit for a hungry world.