This morning’s Gospel passage is the explanation of the parable of the seed and the sower, which we heard on Wednesday morning (and, for that matter, two Sundays ago). What we quickly find out is that the parable is all about us. Clearly the ideal is the good soil which produces much fruit, and just as clearly, we don’t want to be the soil on the path or the rocky soil, or even the soil with the thorny growth. All those soils yield nothing but dead plants, hardly an offering to God or even anything that would be pleasing to us.
When we allow ourselves to have a surface-level relationship with God, one that is not nourished by devotion and worship, when we consider ourselves “spiritual but not religious,” we end up being easy picking for anything in the world that comes our way and would snatch us out of the hands of God. Just like the seeds that fall on the path.
When we think that we can live our faith without any kind of effort on our part, we end up with a very shallow basis for that faith. We sometimes latch on to the joy of religion or religious experience, but when it becomes hard work, as any relationship will at some point, well then, we let go of that relationship and have no way to keep growing. Just like the seeds on the rocky soil.
When we try to live our faith and still be people of the world, we find that the faith gets choked out as our desire for more riches, more things, more prestige – or more whatever – overshadows our desire for strong relationship with God. We can’t serve two masters, and we soon take the path of least resistance, abandoning the faith for what we think will give us more happiness, at least right now. And when that fails us, we wither up and have nowhere to turn. Just like the seeds that grow up with all those thorny plants.
But none of that works for disciples of the Lord. We have to dig deep and have a faith that goes beyond the surface so that we can really know God. We have to have a faith that is developed by embracing the hard work of repentance and devotion so that we can continue to go deep into the life of God. We have to have a faith that is single-minded and not subject to whatever ill-winds and thorns come along; a faith that sustains us in our life of discipleship, in good times and in bad. We have to be that rich soil which yields not only joy for ourselves, but grace for others.