In the parable of the sower, we notice the large quantities of seed wasted in a barren land. The insistence on waste: failure and disappointment is an important element in this parable.
It reflects the reality of the world in which evil appears much stronger, more efficient than good. Note also its progressive, relentless dominance: the seed does not sprout, that which sprouts does not grow, that which grows is suffocated.
To understand the parable more deeply, it should be noted that in the time of Jesus, sowing was done before and not after the field had been prepared. The farmer sowed before plowing, hoeing, eradicating the brambles and removing the stones. So we understand why the seeds are in unprepared ground.
The farmer in the parable is apparently working in vain and wasting seed and energy. It is hard to believe that, in a field reduced to that state, something can sprout. Instead, after sowing, he plows: the paths disappear, thorns and grass are removed, the stones moved and the field that seemed unproductive, after a short time, is covered first by corn stalks, then by blonde ears.
A true miracle! His word gives abundant fruit, because it has in itself an irresistible force of life.
All of us sometimes wonder if it is worth proclaiming the word of God in the corrupt world in which we live; if it still makes sense to speak of the evangelical beatitudes to people who do not listen, whose hearts are hardened, who think only about money, entertainment and to what is transitory, fleeting.
When these thoughts arise, it is time to profess faith in the divine power contained in the word of the gospel.
The scarcity of results does not depend either on the seed or the sower, but on the type of soil.
There is first of all a hardened heart, made as such—as it happens with the soil of a road—by many people who have walked on it. It represents the impenetrable heart to the word of Christ, because it has assimilated the way of thinking of this world, adapted to current morality and adopted the values proposed by the people.
Then there is a variable heart that gets easily excited, but after a few days, it goes back to what it was before. It is like a rock covered with a thin layer of earth: if you plant a seed, it sprouts, but immediately dries up.
There is also a restless heart that is stirred by the problems of this world. It chases success and wealth and nourishes mean dreams. These concerns are like thorns; they choke the seed of the word.
Finally there is a good heart in which the gospel produces abundant fruit.
It is not about the four categories of people, but four interior dispositions that are found in different proportions, in every person. It is useless to think that the evangelist, to launch the precious seed of the word, waits to find the ideal terrain, that which is perfectly fertile. Good soil, thorns, rocks and arid soil will always be together.
For the disciples, it will become a stimulus for a more abundant planting. Many efforts will be in vain, but one day, in the fullness of time, the ear will make its appearance in every person.
Father Fernando Armellini SCJ
Translated by Father John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF