The Gospel on Sunday July 16th was the well-known Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23)
In this parable, Jesus uses a farming message to illustrate the different ways people receive and respond to the message of God’s kingdom. In the parable, a sower scatters seeds, and the seeds fall on four different types of ground:
Some seeds fall on the hard path, where birds quickly devour them. These represent people who hear the message, but due to their hardened hearts and lack of understanding, the message is easily taken away by distractions and influences.
Other seeds fall on rocky soil with little depth of earth. They spring up quickly but wither away because they have no root. These represent people who receive the message with enthusiasm, but when faced with difficulties or persecution, they abandon their faith.
Some seeds fall among thorns, which grow up and choke the plants. These represent people who receive the message, but the worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things distract them from following God’s word.
Finally, some seeds fall on good soil, where they grow and produce a bountiful harvest. These represent people who hear the message, understand it, and apply it in their lives, resulting in a fruitful and productive spiritual life.
The modern application of the Parable of the Sower remains very relevant today. It highlights the different responses people have to the teachings of God’s kingdom or any valuable life lessons. The main lesson of this story is that it explains that seedthat is sown on poor or less fertile ground produces a poor harvest and most goes to waste whilst the seed that is sown on rich fertile soil produces the best harvest or reward. How many of us have had seed sown, where somebody has reached out to us but we were not receptive and then this opportunity was wasted? How many of us have been the sower, where we reached out to assist someone but were ignored and our attempts fell upon the hard path.
In today’s world, we are bombarded with information from various sources. This overload of informationcauses us to develop spiritual and mental hardening.People may hear spiritual messages, but due to the constant influx of distractions, the message might not penetrate their hearts.
Our modern world is a very fast-paced society, with some of us being initially attracted to the initial emotional experience of faith but we sometimes lack deep roots or time to develop an understanding and appreciation of the spiritual truths, resulting in a shallow and unstable faith that withers in times of challenges.
Our material world encourages some to pursue wealth, success, and other worldly desires which canchoke or block spiritual growth. These material distractions draw us away from our spiritual journey due to the pressures of daily life and the desire for more material possessions.
For those among us who invest time in understanding, appreciating and applying the spiritual teachings in our everyday lives experience significant growth in their faith and character. Cultivating a receptive and open heart allows for the message of God’s kingdom to take root and bear abundant spiritual fruit.
Through our everyday life we are encouraged to be mindful of the different responses we may encounter when sharing spiritual truths and to be patient and persistent in nurturing new believers. We must endeavour to reach out beyond the normal to assist, encourage and strengthen our faith and those of our friends, neighbours and family.
Fr Callum Young celebrated the 6:00 p.m. Mass in the Cathedral on Saturday evening the 15th and at the end he delivered bad news to the congregation when he announced that the latest parish changes meant that he was being moved to Dundalk in September. Having been in Newry since just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020 Fr Callum has helped prepare the ground and enriched all of our lives. However, he will not be here to see the harvest,he has to move on, as many other priests and religious do all over the years and are tasked to other parishes to help prepare the ground elsewhere and even help with the harvest there as others before him have helped prepare.
The Parable of the Sower serves as a timeless reminder to us all to be attentive to the condition of our hearts and how we respond to spiritual teachings. It challenges us to cultivate a receptive heart, free from distractions and the entanglements of the world, so that the word of God may take root and flourish in our lives.
Importantly this parable reminds us of the importance of sowing the message of God’s kingdom in a discerning and compassionate manner, while understanding that people’s responses will vary.