Our sowing is not in vain
If the latest Census data is anything to go by, Australians are less religious than ever before. For the first time in Australian history, Australians who do not identify with any religion are the biggest “religious” group in the country.
It means that Gospel stories like the Parable of the Prodigal Son, or the story of Jesus’ response to the woman caught in adultery which are so familiar to us, are foreign to many Australians, who do not understand that God’s mercy and welcoming embrace is offered to them.
It can be discouraging to be a Christian in these current times. We have been greatly disturbed and ashamed by child abuse complaints to the Royal Commission. Churches all across the country are dealing with lower attendance, inadequate financial resources, population shifts and the gap between Christian and non-Christian.
Today’s Gospel reading – Matthew 13:1-9 & 18-31 – is meant to speak to a discouraged church. This parable appears after Jesus had suffered a string of discouragements. God’s Son he may be, but he had experienced much rejection, hostility, apathy and discouragement. And so had the disciples.
So, Jesus told them a story of a farmer scattering seed. This sower did nothing to prepare the soil – no removal of rocks, no ploughing or careful positioning of the seed.
Some seed fell on the path, some on rocky ground and some was choked among the thorns. A great deal of good seed was wasted. It was a farming disaster.
This parable helps explain why there can be meagre results in response to the Gospel. But, at the same time, this parable also encourages us, in the midst of discouragement.
In Jesus’ story the seed that fell on “good soil” brought forth as much as a hundred times yield – one little wheat seed, when it germinated, yielded about 60 kernels of wheat.
When it seems like sowing seed is useless and will not produce results, we feel like giving up. It is at times like this, that we need to remember the Parable of the Sower, where Jesus assures us that all our sowing is not in vain.
We are encouraged not to lose hope. We want those around us to know the joy of the Christian life. We want others to know how much life is better when we know God. We want others to know the love and extravagance of God.
“A farmer went out to scatter seed.” And what a harvest!