Another wisdom from a person deprived of liberty (PDL) on Luke 8:4-15.
The Types of Our Soil
by PDL Brian
Brothers, today’s Gospel is yet again one of Jesus’ parables…
Why does he use parables? He uses parables to share a deeper message than what is literally heard, in this case, a story about planting. He used an example of planting seeds because it was something that the people of that time were able to relate with. The real message of the parable may not be understood by all people. Only those who earnestly seek to listen and let Jesus into their lives may be able to understand what this parable really means. But thankfully, in this parable, he shares the meaning to the disciples. Let us take a closer look on Jesus’ explanation. Like Jesus mentions in the Gospel, “Whoever has ears, ought to hear…” Are we willing to take a moment to really hear what God is telling us?
Let us review first what just happened in today’s Gospel using a method that I learned from school:
“A sower went out to sow his seed…”
Who is the sower?... God
What are the seeds?... Word of God.
When are the seeds sown?... God is always “sowing.”
Where is he sowing the seeds?... in (the soil of) our hearts.
Why is he sowing the seeds?... God wants us to know Him.
He desires for us to live and bear fruit.
How do the seeds grow?... it depends on the soil and what surrounds them.
I would say that we determine whether the seed will grow or not, so the dilemma here, is that our hearts (as the soil) are not same and may change as we grow. Jesus told his disciples four (4) types soil and did give them a brief meaning for each. I invite you to accompany me in trying to have a deeper understanding of them:
“Some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up.” Jesus says, “Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved.”
For me, I probably lived as this type of soil for 30 years. I know God gave me a good heart and good people to guide me so I tried to live my life making good decisions. When I was younger, we had catechism classes in preparation for us to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. We read and studied about the life of Jesus and the basics on the ways of our faith. I was still 15 years old then, and was thinking about pizza, biking, video games, movies, and girls. In fact, I looked forward to going to those classes because there was a girl I had a crush on.
God was planting His seeds in me at that time, but my heart was still like the “path.” I was simply not yet ready to listen. My heart was close yet.
“Some seed fell on Rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture.” Jesus says, “Those on the rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of trial.”
During my early 30’s, towards the end of my adventurous days, I joined a good friend of mine on his birthday to help with Habitat for Humanity in Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City. This was the first time in my life that I was guided to actually reach out to others in need. And it did not just touch me, it did hit me hard. Thus, in November up to Christmas of 2011, I came back there almost every day. One of my trusted friends even challenged me on giving everything to the poor, like what Jesus told the rich man. I took the challenge! I spent everything I had then. It was the most satisfying experience of my life—I felt good that I was able to put smiles on the faces of the poor, especially the children and the elderly.
But, my money was drying up and slowly came the challenging times. After a blowout on Christmas and New Year’s Day, I totally fell into a slump. I barely returned to the community, and everything went spiraling back to my normal self-serving routines and cycles. I was enjoying the “spiritual highs” but when life became difficult again, I fell away from the faith.
Though I always went to church on Sundays… It seemed like I had no roots.
“Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it.”, Jesus says, “As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit.”
Perhaps, many of us here resemble this type of soil. We know God; God knows us. We go to Church; we read the bible and heed God’s words. Our hearts are open; we even teach others. But in our hearts, we still have worries and fears about so many things. Our life is cluttered with worldly concerns—we worry about our own agenda, and then we fear about losing our glory. I believe that such worries and fears in us are the very thorns that prevent us from bearing fruits.
Also, these are some thorns that I think may choke our faith while we are here at NBP: (1) inordinate attachment to freedom, family, friends, loved ones, money for us, money for our family, food and health; and (2) “walang dalaw” (no visitors), lack of basic needs, and in the recent times, sickness and “galugad” (searching).
“And some fell on good soil and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.” Jesus says, “But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”
Someone told me that this type of soil is like the 4th base in a softball. This is where we score the goal! As in softball, we won’t score any point in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd base, the goal is in the 4th base—being a good soil. We need to prepare and maintain our hearts by examining how we welcome God’s words, how we intently listen to His message, and how we willingly follow His command. May we all become God’s good and faithful servants.
A question came to mind, “Does a good soil always stay good? Don’t weeds always magically pop up every now and then? I guess, the weeds are the challenges in life that are always present as we continue to grow with Jesus. But the Goodnews is that as we continue to grow with Jesus, we come to realize that we shouldn’t soak ourselves in worrying about these weeds. Through time, we learn how to fix our eyes on Jesus who is with us, helping us grow more and more amidst all these challenges in life. When we see our life not yet bearing fruits, let us not easily get frustrated. Let us remember that this does not happen overnight, and that we are on a long journey towards our full transformation.
Let me end this sharing by going back to my story when I was 15 and had my very first girlfriend. She was a devout Christian. One time, she brought me to a theater play about Jesus, and we ended up having a little fight about our beliefs. Our relationship did not work out. But in hindsight, 20 years later, when I looked back, I could recognize so many instances where God was actually reaching out to me—so many “seeds.”
Throughout our whole lives God is always sending us His words though every and any way possible. He even keeps on repeating His lessons over and over again, until they take root in us. If you are like me, I need things told to me at least three times before I really remember them.
Will God ever stop trying? This is the Goodnews! He will never give up on us. God does unceasingly invite us to open our hearts to receive His words over and over again, and allow them to take root and grow.
Let us ask the Lord today for the grace that we may joyfully and gratefully welcome His words and put them into practice. At the same time, may we actively learn to recognize and reject the subtle lies of the evil one and give no space for these thorns to prevent us from growing with God. Amen.
Some points for reflection:
Do you know the Sower? And does the Sower know you?
Do you recognize the seeds that God is planting in you?
What kind of “soil” are you right now?
Do you bear any fruit? Do you have a “good” fruit?