A parable is a story that illustrates a moral or a lesson for us to take away.
Today’s Gospel (Matt 13: 1-23) is the Parable of the Sower and most fitting for Bible Sunday.
The seed represents the Word of God. Jesus is the Sower. The various types of soil signify the depth or fertility of the soil of our hearts.
In our country, we started the COVID-19 restriction orders on 18 March 2020. Different countries used different terminologies for the lockdowns. In Malaysia, we are more familiar with the three variations of the movement control orders – MCO, CMCO and now we are in the period of RMCO.
Let’s see how these restriction orders are connected with the Parable of the Sower and the four types of soils – the pathway, the rocky ground, the thorny bush and finally the rich soil. Let me first start with the seeds which fell on the rich soil.
1. Rich soil: The seeds which fell on good soil produced grains 100 folds, 60 folds and 30 folds from what were sown (Matt 13: 8). When we were undergoing the first phase of MCO, many of us were spending hours praying the Bible and praying the Rosary, attending various virtual programmes, etc. We had ample of time to ourselves, with our family and with the Lord and we benefited in many ways particularly spiritually. We experienced and gained tremendous richness in the soil of our hearts, and our hearts in turn gave much fruit during the first phase. To a certain extent, the Word of God took root in us.
2. Thorny Bush: The seeds which fell among the thorns – these seeds would grow up being chocked (Matt 13: 7) by the thorns. Not unlike the second phase – the CMCO (Conditional Movement Controlled Order), we were given a bit of relaxation to our movements. In this period of trial, we made some efforts praying and reading the Word of God, but our lazy habits and lack of enthusiasm were also taking place in certain aspects of our lives. In the first phase, we realised our spiritual efforts were progressing and we experienced an increase in our faith but in the second phase, we slowed down and hence chocked up like the seeds that fell in the thorny bush. We lost the power and discipline in our spiritual lives and we were not much growing during the CMCO.
3. Pathway and rocky ground: The seeds fell on the edge of the path and the birds came to eat them up, (Mt 13:4) and some seeds fell on patches of rock (Matt 13: 5). The soil was very hard and dry, people stepped on the seeds and the seeds did not take root and “the Evil one comes and carries off what was sown,” (Matt 13: 19). During this present period of RMCO (Recovery Movement Control Order), we can see that life has become more hectic again. We rush to getting our lives back to normal, or the new normal as it is now called. Our minds have become more occupied with the things of the world, rushing to catch up what we lost in the past 4 months and trying very hard to restart. Some of us are enduring hardships, with pay cuts, or job lost, and are struggling to find ways to make ends meet. Many are left “fallen” and many feel “broken”, exhausting all our resources and time, chasing after worldliness again, just to catch up.
During this RMCO period, we may find that when we read and pray the Word of God, they do not fall onto rich soil, we may find that they do not take root in our hearts, and we may find that unknowingly, the Word withers away slowly from our conscious hearts and minds. Time spent with the Lord through reading the bible, becomes lesser and lesser due to our daily lives. Eventually our spiritual lives may also wither away, perhaps even diminish.
Therefore, we must pray with the Bible that we will always create that atmosphere and environment of the rich soil. We have to keep growing in hope for a good harvest in our spiritual lives and we must always stay close to the Word of God. The Word of God has Power in removing the rocky ground or the thorny bush.
On this Bible Sunday, we pray that the Lord will make fertile the soil of our hearts, and that it will become good soil to produce fruits, our yield. As the Psalmist said, the “seed fell into rich soil will yield fruitful harvest,” (Ps 64).
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy
Church of St Joseph
Sentul Kuala Lumpur
12 July 2020