We are all familiar with the parable of the sower who went out to sow his seed. Jesus explained that the seed stood for the word of God. But what did he mean by the word of God? What form does the word take? Is it the word of the Bible?
To take it as that and nothing more would restrict the meaning of the parable. For today let us take the word to be any cry for help that God puts in our way. It could take the form of a letter in the mail, or of a request from the pulpit, or of a suffering soul we pass on the street. Let’s here take God’s word to us as being the sight of one of his children in need.
Our hearts are like the hard soil of the pathway when we push the plea aside as just another nuisance.
If our hearts are like the inch of soil covering a rock pan, we respond with the instant resolve to do something about the person’s need, but we don’t follow through with it.
If our hearts are like the thorny patch, our addictions and our selfishness don’t leave room in our hearts for the needs of others.
Let me tell a story about a man who was like that thorny soil. Father Murray was a fine preacher and a likable man, but one drink would turn him wild, so the bishop would no longer give him an assignment. The kind-hearted pastor at St. Joseph’s took him in, and Father Murray was staying sober. One Saturday evening my brother brought me to a gathering near St. Joseph’s, and a lady named Elizabeth came in with a story that had her very distraught.
She said, “I ducked into St. Joseph’s for confession, but the strange priest there said, ‘Confessions are over at 8:30.’ I told him I was sorry, but would he please hear my confession, and he said, ‘I told you. Confessions are over.’”
As Elizabeth talked I knew it was Father Murray, but Elizabeth went on, “I told him, ‘Father, your refusing me could cause me to lose my soul.’ And that priest, he told me, ‘Lady, it’s not your soul I’m worried about.’”
If our hearts are like the good soil in Our Lord’s parable, the needs of others that we tend to will produce benefits exponentially in our lives.