All week long, since Sunday, I have been meditating on one of my favourite passages from the Holy Gospel, the parable Jesus teaches of the sower and the seeds.
It is one for which I have a visceral, as well as spiritual, appreciation.
Once when I was a teenager there were several acres in the midst of a massive wheat field needing to be seeded, but those acres were too wet for the heavy machinery and so the old farm manager told me to go and seed the field by hand.
In those days, not that long after the war, there were still men around who knew the proper way, a type almost of ballet arm and hand movement, a single forward and backward gesture, which flung the seed in an arc up into the air, where the hundreds of seeds seemed to hang for a moment to be caressed by the sun, before plummeting to earth, just deep enough in the soil to be safely hidden, most of them, to rest and then take root.
Sure some seed landed in little pockets of muddy water or on rock, some stayed on the surface, feeding the crows and sparrows, but most landed and took root in the good soil.
All the while I walked up and down that field the Gospel parable of the sower and his seed was singing in my heart.
Over the remaining weeks of spring and throughout the summer, whenever I could, which usually was Sunday afternoon, my only ‘day’ off, I’d visit the field.
At first when I would walk the field the little green shoots only came up to my ankles but then, so quickly it seemed over the summer, each time I would walk the field the bright green stalks would be higher until late summer when, the full heads of grain now waist high, were golden ripe.
The old man came to me one day and told me it was time to combine the grain, the harvest was on!
Over the winter he would assign me to the small mill to grind the grain into flour.
Some thirty years later when I was a seminarian one of my duties was to bake simple flour and water bread to be used in Holy Mass and then one day I was a priest and to this day, each time I pray: “…….we have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made…….”, well those words sure have meaning.
Jesus Himself is the true Sower and His words, His grace are the real Seeds.
Jesus, especially in the Holy Eucharist, in a sense, seeds Himself within us and makes of us in our turn seeds that grow and bear much fruit.
Baptism and the work of the Holy Spirit are the ways in which we are both grafted onto Christ and are formed by the Holy Spirit to be one with Jesus in His mission.
Knowingly, or not, we are all sowing various seeds all the time – and depending on the type of seed we sow there comes forth either good, indeed beautiful and holy fruit or terrible brambles that ensnare our brothers and sisters in darkness.
When a man and woman pour themselves out for each other in Holy Marriage they are seeding love which, God willing, bears fruit in the beauty of a child, another human being/immortal soul and throughout their lives as spouses and parents they sow the seeds of love over and over, the seeds of faith, of learning.
Whenever we human beings converse with one another it is another moment of sowing – but what seeds are we casting forth?
Affirmation of other: love of Jesus, good news – or gossip, putdowns, negativity?
Indeed when we are alone with our memories and thoughts there is a type of sowing unfolding and so what seeds am I scattering across the fields of my mind, imagination, memory?
News media choke us with their obsessive seeding of negative news stories, their frequent assaults on church, priesthood, marriage, life and so many people in their daily conversation emulate the media and sow negativity as well, a negativity which points to the way people think when alone!
“Listen! A sower went out to sow.”