15th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Mt 13:1-9, 18-23*
1 That same day Jesus left the house and went to the lakeside, where he sat down to teach.
2 The crowd that gathered round him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it, while the crowd stood on the shore.
3 He used parables to tell them many things. “Once there was a man who went out to sow corn.
4 As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
5 Some of it fell on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The seeds soon sprouted, because the soil wasn’t deep.
6 But when the sun came up, it burnt the young plants; and because the roots had not grown deep enough, the plants soon dried up.
7 Some of the seed fell among thorn bushes, which grew up and choked the plants.
8 But some seeds fell on good soil, and the plants produced corn; some produced a hundred grains, others sixty, and others thirty.”
9 And Jesus concluded, “Listen, then, if you have ears!
18 Listen, then, and learn what the parable of the sower means.
19 Those who hear the message about the Kingdom but do not understand it are like the seeds that fell along the path. The Evil One comes and snatches away what was sown in them.
20 The seeds that fell on rocky ground stand for those who receive the message gladly as soon as they hear it.
21 But it does not sink deep into them, and they don’t last long. So when trouble or persecution comes because of the message, they give up at once.
22 The seeds that fell among thorn bushes stand for those who hear the message; but the worries about this life and the love for riches choke the message, and they don’t bear fruit.
23 And the seeds sown in the good soil stand for those who hear the message and understand it: they bear fruit, some as much as a hundred, others sixty, and others thirty.”
*This is a shortened form of today’s reading. The full reading is Matthew 13:1-23.
Other readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65:9-13; Romans 8:18-23
Jesus frequently used parables, or simple short stories, to teach very profound truths about God. He based his parables around ordinary human experiences and used items familiar to most people. His parables normally had a simple plot and a single message.
In our text, Jesus paints a vivid word picture of the sower and the seeds. Each situation described in this parable has a specific meaning. The parable is about how various people receive the word of God and the harvest that results.
Jesus likens people to four different soil types. Three out of the four groups of people Jesus identifies don’t allow God’s word to produce the fruit that God intends. The reasons vary but the ultimate result is the same. Although they receive the message, they don’t let it take root in them.
Only one group of people, “the good soil”, is fruitful. Different people produce various amounts of fruit but this group are all fruitful.
The responsibility of the sower is to sow the seed. The sower doesn’t know what the potential harvest will be; only God knows that.
How do you respond to God’s word? Which of the four soil types do you feel describes you best? How do you feel about this?
“The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit” (Luke 8:15). Does Luke’s description of the “good soil” help us understand this passage better? What can we learn from this verse?
Consider how you might bear more fruit in your life.
Reflect on the Scripture and respond to God humbly in prayer. Ask God to give you boldness and show you specific opportunities to share your faith.
The ministry of your priest or pastor comes to you at their great personal cost. How has their ministry influenced you? What have you ignored or rejected that may be reducing the fruit you might bear? What can change in your attitude to their ministry over the coming weeks and months?
Lectio Divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word
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