What the Sower & the Seed can teach us about the Ten Commandments.

Posted by James Hahn on

In today's Gospel Jesus gives us his explanation of the parable of the Sower & the Seed.  In a recent post I examined the different types of "soils of our heart" and how they can be cultivated.  Reading this passage today I asked the Lord, "where are these seeds today?"

I believe the first reading gives us some insight.  This reading, from the book of Exodus, is one version of the Ten Commandments.  For our purposes today we can look at them as the Ten Seeds.  I found it interesting to think about the Commandments in this way.  I found that even within my own heart, these seeds fall upon different types of soil.  Some of them penetrate deeply while others lie on the surface waiting to be snatched away.

As I look back upon my life I can see these 10 Seeds shifting and moving to the different soils of my heart depending on my age, attitude, spiritual state, understanding, or love.  For instance, when I was in my late teens nearly all of the 10 Seeds fell upon the path.  At that time my heart was hard toward God and these seeds weren't going to penetrate that hard-packed path of my heart.  Later, during the early parts of my conversion my heart was good soil for many of the Commandments.  However, there were quite a few that fell upon the rocky ground or among the thorns.  I think with a little reflection we can all see these 10 Seeds shifting upon the different soils of our heart.

The underlying question though is this, how do we get all of those seeds, 10 or otherwise, into the good, rich soil?  Jesus gives us a hint when he says, "But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it..."  What does that mean to "understand" it?

Jesus can't simply mean that to understand the word is enough as though intellectual knowledge is equivalent to rich soil!  Surely even when I was a young, rebellious teen and young adult I "knew" what the Commandments meant.  I knew what they meant but didn't care.  I could recite them but didn't live them.  I knew what they demanded but chose otherwise.

To understand something is more than simply having knowledge.  The old English sense of the word means to "Stand in the midst of" or "Stand Upon".  This is certainly a deeper meaning than superficial knowledge.  In this sense, I would be standing in the midst of these 10 Seeds or standing upon them.  In other words, they would surround me or I would be basing my life upon them.

These too are great meanings and helpful for leading us to cultivating richer soil in the heart!  Here I am no longer simply using head knowledge.  Now, standing in the midst of or upon these 10 Seeds, my life is changing.  However, I would suggest that we take it a step further.  Let us not merely stand in the midst of or stand upon but rather, let us embrace these 10 Seeds, let us love them.  In fact, let us replace the word "understand" with "love".

Jesus again, "But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and loves it..."

How different is that!?  What will make this hit home even more is if we take the beginning of the Gospel today and do the same thing, "The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without loving it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart."  Wow!  In my own life, that explains a great deal.  How many times have I heard the Word of God without loving it!?  Lord, help me to love your word.

And that is the next question, how do I love the Word of God, the Word of the Kingdom more?  How do I help my friends and family to love the Word of God?  Spend more time with the Lord in prayer and in the Sacraments.  Spending more time with Him changes us.  We begin to think like Him, speak like Him, act like Him, pray like Him....  Think of the old couple married for 50 years, not only can they finish each other's sentences they often begin to look like each other!!

You and I should want that in our relationship with Jesus!  The more time we spend with Him, the more we will love Him, the more we love Him, the more others will see Him in us, the more others see Him in us, the more they will want to love Him as well, and that is bearing "fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."

"The sower went out to sow, to scatter the seed at all the crossroads of this earth.  What a blessed task we have.  We have the job of making sure that in all the circumstances of time and place the word of God takes root, springs up, and bears fruit." - Saint Josemaria Escriva, The Forge #970

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