JESUS BEGAN TEACHING AGAIN on the shore near Capernaum. One day when the crowd of listeners was especially large He got into a small boat and sat there preaching to the people gathered on the shore. And for their instruction He told them this parable.
“Behold, the sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the birds came and ate them up. And other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much earth; and they sprang up at once, because they had no depth of earth; but when the sun rose they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And other seeds fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked them. And other seeds fell upon good ground, and yielded fruit,some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
When the disciples asked why He taught in parables, Jesus said:
“To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, neither do they understand. In them is being fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, who says, ‘Hearing you will hear, but not understand; and seeing you will see, but not perceive. For the heart of this people has been hardened, and with their ears they have been hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their mind, and be converted, and I heal them.'”
Continuing, He explained the parable of the sower :
“Hear, therefore, the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, but does not understand it, the wicked one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is he who was sown by the wayside. And the one sown on rocky ground, that is he who hears the word and receives it immediately with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but continues only for a time, and when trouble and persecution come because of the word, he at once falls away. And the one sown among the thorns, that is he who listens to the word; but the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it is made fruitless. And the one sown upon good ground, that is he who hears the word and understands it; he bears fruit and yields in one case a hundredfold, in another sixtyfold, and in another thirtyfold.”
“Is a lamp brought to be put under the measure, or under the couch? Is it not rather to be put upon the lamp-stand? For there is nothing hidden that will not be made manifest; nor is anything concealed that will not come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. Take heed what you hear. With what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you, and more shall be given to you. For to him who has shall be given; and from him who does not have, even that which he has shall be taken away.”
He explained the growth of the seed in this way:
“Thus is the kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. And when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then the weeds appeared as well. And the servants of the household came and said to him, ‘Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in they field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them ‘An enemy has done this.’ And the servants said to him, ‘Wilt thou have us go and gather them up?’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers, Gather up the weeds first, and bind them in bundles to burn; but gather the wheat into my barn.'”
THE MUSTARD SEED
“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. This indeed is the smallest of all the seeds; but when it grows up it is larger than any herb and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and dwell in its branches.”
THE PARABLE OF THE LEAVEN
“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and buried in three measures of flour, until all of it was leavened.”
In this way Jesus preached to the people about His kingdom, fulfilling what had been prophesied by the psalmist a thousand years before: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.”
The Hebrew mashal, or parable, was exquisitely suited for giving to the public an intimation (not an exposition) of the doctrines of the Kingdom of God. His kingdom was not of this world, and by speaking in this way He avoided any risk that His words would be misinterpreted by the many Jews of that time who were seeking a political messiah and an earthly kingdom. Meaningless to those who did not open their hearts to His message, the little tales were attractive and full of clues for right-intentioned listeners. When such listeners came to Him personally for instruction, He fully explained the mystery hinted at in the parable.
Meditation: The parable of the sower was explained by Christ Himself. We know, therefore, that the various kinds of ground on which the seed fell represent the various kinds of hearts on of God can fall. Each Sunday at Mass the word of God is read to me in the First Reading, Second Reading and Gospel responding with the responsorial psalm and gospel acclamation. On what kind of a heart did that word fall last Sunday?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 73-76. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.