Reflection: Which Soil Are You?

A Reflection on the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8: 1-15) by Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to him, he spoke in a parable. "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold." After saying this, he called out, "Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear." ”This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of trial. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

In this parable, Our Lord shows us that are many different attitudes in this world with respect to receiving His word. If only all of us were the rich soil where the word of God could germinate and grow to such an extent as to yield the greatest fruit. However, if we are honest with ourselves, we usually fall into one, or maybe even all three, of the soils that need more growth and development for the word to take root in our lives. In this reflection, I would like to concentrate on the first and fourth types of soil because they are directly linked to each other.

In the first kind of soil, Our Lord says, that the seed falls on the path and is trampled upon by the passers-by. This is an interesting image, if you think about. I immediately thought of a stone or a small rock that gets pressed down into the ground every time someone walks over it. Indeed, if enough time goes by, it becomes so compacted into the earth that nobody even notices it or even thinks “hey, I’m walking over a stone right now”. This is exactly what happens to the word of God in our lives. The path is really our minds and souls, in which we allow many things to enter and trespass within us and ultimately distract us royally from the word. Because there is so much noise (or traffic) on the path of our souls, the word of God cannot germinate and bear fruit within us, and so is trampled upon to extent that you no longer notice it or even think about it. In the Gospels in many places, Our Lord is always telling us, “be alert, be vigilant, wake and watch”. He is referring to the many thoughts that dart in and out of our minds everyday, that squelch the word within us. Beware of what is coming in and out of your minds, too many intruders walk on the path of our souls. We need to put up a sign on the paths of our hearts, “Do not enter, this is private property that belongs to Jesus Christ, the only thing welcome here is the word of God”. Then and only then can the word germinate in our lives.

This approach is directly linked to the fourth soil. The fourth is the rich soil, referring to those people who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance. The most beautiful aspect of those in this soil, is that they listen to God’s voice alone in their hearts. They do not allow entrance to anything else to distract them from the word within them, which is being cultivated and watered by God’s grace to bear great fruit. They have put up the “Do not enter” sign on their hearts and allow God admittance only.

You may say, “this is impossible, there are so many things on my mind, so many things I need to take care of, my sick mother, my children’s schooling etc etc”. I assure you that Jesus would never ask something of us that He knew we could not fulfill. If we even show the slightest desire to be one with Him in His word, the grace of heaven would come to meet us there, and give us all we need to make it a reality. What is required of us is simply to desire the word to take root in our lives and intentional effort to check ourselves when the intruding and distracting thoughts want to barge in (His grace will be there to make up for our lack in any way).

So pick up the Bible and give it a try, one verse is sufficient for Our Lord to work wonders in the soil of your heart.