A Sower Went Out To Sow (Mk 4:1-9)
Rev. John Roop
Jesus spoke to them in a parable. A sower went out to sow. As he cast good seed, much was lost: on the path, among the rocks, in the briers. But, some seed fell on good soil and flourished, producing a harvest – thirty, sixty, even a hundred fold.
Why this waste? Why this indiscriminate broadcasting of seed? To cast the seed of the Word upon the field of the human heart requires such wasteful broadcasting simply because no human heart is thoroughly cultivated; every human heart contains hard-packed paths, stony outcroppings, brier patches, and yes, even good soil.
The heart is a small vessel; and yet dragons and lions are there, and there likewise are poisonous creatures and all the treasures of wickedness; rough, uneven paths are there, and gaping chasms. There also is God, there are the angels, there life and the Kingdom, there light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasures of grace: all things are there. — St. Macarius the Great (d. 392)
The proper question is not what type of soil is my heart – for all types are there – but where in my heart is the path, where the stones, where the briers, and where the fertile, prepared soil. Lenten observance and disciplines beckon us to walk the fields of our hearts, to map the terrain, and to begin the arduous and heartbreaking work of plowing the paths, breaking up and carting away the hidden stones, rooting out and burning thorn bushes and briers. The task is neither easy nor simple.
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Or only hope lies in this: we do not till our hearts alone. The Church is there offering tools for the task – prayer, fasting, service, worship – and sustenance for weary souls and bodies – bread, wine, Word. And God is there: God the Holy Spirit working within and alongside to convict and to correct and to comfort, God the only begotten Son interceding for us at the right hand of the Father, and God the Father Almighty proclaiming over us, “This is my beloved son, my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased.”
So, let the work begin with prayer: O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help us.
Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
— John Donne (Holy Sonnet 14)