A Slower Tilling

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49

Brothers and sisters:
Someone may say, “How are the dead raised?
With what kind of body will they come back?”

You fool!
What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies.
And what you sow is not the body that is to be
but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind.

So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.

So, too, it is written,
“The first man, Adam, became a living being,”
the last Adam a life-giving spirit.
But the spiritual was not first;
rather the natural and then the spiritual.
The first man was from the earth, earthly;
the second man, from heaven.
As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly,
and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly.
Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one,
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 56:10C-12, 13-14

R. (14) I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living.
Now I know that God is with me.
In God, in whose promise I glory,
in God I trust without fear;
what can flesh do against me?
R. I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living.
I am bound, O God, by vows to you;
your thank offerings I will fulfill.
For you have rescued me from death,
my feet, too, from stumbling;
that I may walk before God in the light of the living.
R. I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living.

Gospel: Luke 8:4-15

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another
journeying to Jesus, 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.”

Then his disciples asked him
what the meaning of this parable might be.
He answered,
“Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God
has been granted to you;
but to the rest, they are made known through parables
so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

“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 temptation.
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.”



It’s one of the only times we see Jesus fully explain a parable in the Gospels, and it says He did so because the disciples asked Him what He meant by the story.

Jesus answers directly, succinctly, about the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. And there are four kinds of people who receive it, the ones who have it stolen away by the Devil, the ones who have no roots, the ones who allow it to be choked out, and the ones who embrace it and bear fruit.

I remember countless skits, songs, on lessons about this parable throughout my youth group years in Catholic circles. I remember praying desperately to be good soil.

But in those years, I absorbed the mentality that we were only one type of soil, and I longed desperately to be good soil. Searching for signs of my own fruitfulness, I looked for the “good girl” litmus test that would show up positive and give me certain proof that I was indeed, “generous” and of “a good heart” and bearing fruit. I desperately longed for holiness, and I wanted to be a saint in no small measure. But I wanted to be all-or-nothing good soil and I wanted to-be-now-and-forever amen.

Reading this parable again today, I can see how my one beating heart has different pieces and parts that are all of these soils. In some parts, the word of God has taken root, matured, and is bearing good fruit. In other places, it is still being choked out by my concerns. In still others, the Devil still has access to in my heart and robs of the good God has planted there.

Where once I would have been horrified at that reality and set to work frantically tearing up the messy parts of my heart to replant in good soil, I now embrace the tension of my mixed-up heart. I invite Jesus into my contradictions rather than trying to quickly and ashamedly trying to patch them. I tend my heart garden with the purposeful pursuit of a fruitful God-given life. I till away at the unfertile places with steady devotion more than impatience these days.

And I think, maybe, this is a fruit of its own, the knowing how to return to the story and ask again what does it mean and the trying again to lie it anew.

How's the garden of your heart today? // @colleencmitch Click To Tweet

How’s the garden of your heart today? Let us be realistic and face our shortcomings so we can ask Our Lord for help and healing, sisters.

photo credit

Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five amazing sons here on earth. They serve in Costa Rica where they run the St. Francis Emmaus Center, a ministry that welcomes indigenous mothers into their home to provide them access to medical care, support and education in the weeks before and after the birth of a child. Find out more about her here.

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