So, when I ask you all “Who, or what, do you think you are supposed to identify with in this parable”, how many of you would say, “The good soil that brought forth grain”? This is somewhat of a rhetorical question, but you can raise your hands if you really want to! We, as the people of God, know precisely what we are in this story: we are called to be the soil that receives the Word faithfully, producing fruit, that is, a life with the visible marks of discipleship. Jesus isn’t calling us have our God-given gifts snatched away by Satan; he isn’t calling us to choke out the Word by forgetfulness or spiritual laziness. He’s calling us, as the Church, to be a field of good soil that produces growth, that internalizes his gifts of grace and mercy. But we know this already. We’ve heard it before. And when we become so familiar with an interpretation of a story, it’s easy to tune out, to fix our minds on something else. So let’s forget that way of thinking for a moment. Let’s set aside this long-tradition of interpretation. Forgive the pun, but let’s get our hands a bit dirty and play in the rich soil that is this morning’s Gospel.
Instead of assuming ourselves to be the soil, to be those receiving something, how differently would we read this story, and maybe live our lives, if we imagined ourselves, as Christians, to be the seed…to be people who bear within ourselves the possibility of producing life in a world that seems to be marked by death, destruction, and despair. We, like the seed, are cast out into the world by Jesus, the Great Sower…cast out in order to spread this life-giving and transformational Gospel of grace and mercy. We are bound to face trouble, confrontation…thorns that attempt to choke out the life within us. Nevertheless, the call of a Christian is to remain faithful to the task set before us by God despite the swift and varied changes of this life. We remain faithful in the face of evil. We remain faithful in the face of distraction. We remain faithful in the face of death. We may wish for a different life, something more than what we’ve been given. We may wish that God would have called us to go anywhere but here…anywhere but the places, the circumstances, the situations we find ourselves in today. But in spite of what comes against us, in spite of what simply ‘is’, our task is always, always to remain faithful to what God has given us to do: to forsake anything that would prevent us from being buried deep into the ‘everyday-ordinariness’ of this world that we might grow up into something beautiful, something fruitful, that witnesses to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our birthright is to be cast like seed into the garden of the world, that we might share the power of Christ’s resurrection with all of God’s creation. So, friends, let us go forth with the conviction that all the world, even the darkest, thorniest, most wretched places are capable of bearing forth new life. Go without hesitation, or the fear that you will be cast into a place that cannot produce the fruit of reconciliation, of peace, of transformation, of hope, of love. And even if it is by the sheer force of your will, plant your roots deep. Take root. Spring forth with your words and deeds as a lively witness to God’s work in the world. Do not lose heart. “For if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.”