(Adults, the reflection is about the short version of this Sunday's Gospel. You might choose not to read the Gospel to the child before reading the reflection because I have included the entire text within the body of the reflection. Your choice.)
Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach.
At the beginning of the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear Jesus head down to the lake near the house he is staying at. So many people come to hear him speak, they crowd the beach. Jesus really wants them to hear what he has to say, but he cannot see all of them when they are crowding around, and they cannot all see him. Someone has the idea of getting a boat. In a boat, floating a little ways off the shore, Jesus sits down. Now he can see them all, and the water carries his voice to them. The beach is rocky so the adults stand where they can, shielding their eyes from the sun as they look out towards Jesus in the boat, bobbing gently on the waves. What about the children?What do they do? Do they crouch among the adults, gathering beautiful stones as they listen to Jesus' words? Do they walk in the water along the edge of the lake keeping their feet cool, looking for minnows and small fish, as they listen to Jesus' words?
What does Jesus say, while he is sitting in the boat, looking out at all the people?
he told them many things in parables
Oh, yes, parables. We know about those. Parables are stories, little mysteries for us to wonder about. When we hear a parable, we know we have some work to do, to think about what Jesus might mean. Every time we think closely about a parable, we hear something more.
“Listen! A sower went out to sow.”
I need to tell you, when I first heard this, I thought Jesus was talking about someone sewing with a sewing machine. He's not. He's talking about someone sowing seeds. Sowing is a way of planting. A sower flings the seeds so that they fall onto the soil.
Jesus tells us to listen, so let's do that.
“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, 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 brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”
That's a funny thing to say, "anyone with ears!" We all have ears! Even people who are deaf have ears. Jesus wants everyone to listen--to think closely about--his words.
I am curious about that sower. Who could he be? He seems to have a lot of seeds! He flings the seeds all over the ground. He does not carefully plant the seeds one by one into the soil. Does he seem worried about not having enough? Not at all! He must have an abundance of seeds.
He takes those seeds and flings them everywhere. He does not seem to be choosing where they go. It is like he wants to give all the ground a chance to grow the seeds. I bet the rocky ground and the poorer soil feel good about getting a chance to try to grow the seeds for the sower.
The seeds are a particular kind of seed. They bring forth grain, Jesus says. He is talking about wheat seeds. Here is one wheat seed:
When wheat seeds grow, each one can produce a head full of seeds:
Here is some wheat that was planted in February by some children I know:
Look how they have grown! So many heads full of seed!
From one seed comes so many more. That sower will always have an abundance of seeds! Who could he be?
This is what we are left to wonder about this week:
Who is this sower who has an abundance of seeds?
Who is this sower who shares his abundance with all?
Who is this sower whose power produces from one so many more?
Do we know this sower?