Jesus proclaimed everywhere the Kingdom of God, but if someone asked him what that "Kingdom" consisted of, he did not respond with a definition. He did it by telling short stories, called "parables." A parable is not a children's story: there are no fairies, no princes, no dragons, no wizards. Nor is it a fable: there are no animals that speak and transmit sentences full of wisdom that conclude with a moral.
A parable is a story, formed from facts taken from everyday life, through which an attempt is made to explain a reality or truth.
The parables are part of a popular literary genre, deeply rooted in the Hebrew people. A literary genre that, for that very reason, is very common in the Bible, whose characters usually express themselves through images and not through definitions or abstract concepts.
In the parables, the invisible realities are explained by their comparison with earthly, visible realities, and Jesus used them for the announcement of his Good News. Today the Gospel is a book; but "at that time", the Gospel was announced through a set of conversations in ordinary language. When Jesus spoke, there were no scholars around him, but a mass of people from the village: housewives, fishermen, farmers, shepherds, woodworkers, weavers, merchants, officials, poor, sick, cripples ... I could not speak to them as speaks in the books, but as talk in the market place.
In the parable of the seed that grows by itself and we see that many things that worry and overwhelm us would be much simplified if we were able to sow and let grow; sow and "forget" about the matter; to sow and continue sowing, and that the seed of God has a silent but unstoppable dynamism, and will bear fruit with all certainty.
Mc 4, 3-8.
3 "Listen: the sower went out to sow; 4 When sowing, something fell at the edge of the road, the birds came and ate it. 5 Another part fell into stony ground, where it barely had land; as the earth was not deep, it sprang up immediately; 6 But as soon as the sun came out, it burned and, for lack of root, dried up. 7 Another part fell among thorns; the thorns grew, drowned it and did not give grain. 8 The rest fell on good ground; was born, grew and gave grain; and the harvest was thirty or sixty or one hundred and one. "
14-20: 14 The sower sows the word. 15There are some who are at the edge of the road where the word is sown: but as soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes the word sown in them. 16There are others who receive the seed as stony ground; they are those who, upon hearing the word, immediately welcome it with joy, 17 but they have no roots, they are inconstant, and when a difficulty or persecution comes by the word, they immediately succumb. 18There are others who receive the seed among thorns; These are the ones who listen to the word, but the cares of life, the seduction of riches and the desire for everything else invade them, drown the word, and remain sterile. 20 The others are those who receive the seed in good soil; they listen to the word, they accept it and they give a harvest of thirty or sixty or one hundred and one. "
We know that Jesus had an initial success in his preaching. But later it was not easy for Jesus to carry out his project. He immediately found criticism and rejection. His word did not have the welcome that could be expected. Among his closest followers began to awaken discouragement and distrust. Was it worth it to continue working with Jesus? Was not all this an impossible utopia?
Jesus answered them with this parable, in which there is certainly an unsuccessful work that can be spoiled, but there is a certainty: the final project of God will not fail. Do not give in to discouragement. We must continue sowing, because in the end there will be abundant harvest. Jesus invites his disciples to maintain confidence in the strength of the Kingdom of God, since they are experiencing the consequences that both the reception and the rejection of the message of the
Kingdom. The parable maintains its invitation to encouragement for the missionaries who, announcing the Gospel, encounter different answers. And at the same time it is a serious exhortation to all Christians so that the reception of the Gospel is not drowned by the difficulties with which they are met and can bear fruit.
In this parable, the sower is Jesus and the seed his Word. Jesus continues to plant in us the seed of his Word, either directly or through his collaborators.
The seed that falls by the wayside and is lost may represent the attitude of a hard heart, just as the earth is hard and impenetrable, trampled by walkers. Maybe our heart is hard and insensitive because it is too preoccupied with things that are not God, is far from Him, and the seed of the Word of God slips and is lost.
The seed that falls between stones and is lost due to lack of depth can symbolize the superficiality of our life. Maybe we are unreflective, inconstant, immature people, unable to take things seriously and act responsibly.
We accept perhaps the Word, even with illusion, but we do not give it an opportunity to take root and hold tightly to our heart as part of our life. We get tired too soon, we stop trying and take things seriously using any excuse as justification, or at the slightest difficulty we come down. And we let the seed sown with so much work spoil.
The seed that falls among thorns symbolizes the Word that begins to grow at the same time that we let so many things grow that are contrary to the message of Jesus. Maybe we are too worried about the chores of life. Maybe the ambition for power, money, pleasure, and good life choke and suffocate the seed.
Not only do we not take care of it, nor have we protected it, but we have not given it time or interest because we have had other priorities that have monopolized our attention and our effort, and all this ends up suffocating a Word that could have grown and borne fruit.
Only the seed that falls on good soil bears fruit. Only a few have welcomed the seed of the Word of God as a well-prepared, soft and juicy earth. Only a few have shown perseverance and interest, they have taken care of it and protected it, they have nourished it, they have reflected it and they have tried to take deep roots. And in each one it has borne fruit.
But the good land is not improvised. The farmer has to plunge the plowshare into the ground to undo the clods and make the earth spongy and receptive; it has to remove the stones that make it rocky and sterile; he has to watch and remove the weeds that, if they grow, will drown the seed and will not let it grow. The farmer has to work, strive with perseverance and patience. And only in this way can the earth be able to accept the seed and make it fruitful.
Jesus places all his trust in the arrival of the Kingdom, with the certainty that his Word is not sterile, and encourages to continue sowing. As disciples and apostles, we are also sowers, we are also transmitters of the Word. And to be sowers, the first thing is to be men and women of hope, because you can only sow with and from hope. If we become sowers of scolding, lament, recriminations, disappointment, fatigue, distrust ... we have not learned what sowing is.
Let's be more like Jesus.