“Parable of the Sower” by Marten van Valckenborch (1535-1612), oil on canvas, painted between 1580 and 1590, housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/PUBLIC DOMAIN

Spiritual Life

Why does the sower waste so much seed?

This Sunday’s parable of the sower and the seed begs the question: Why does this fellow waste so much seed?

He recklessly throws seed by handfuls on the path, among rocks and thorns, as well as on decent, viable dirt. He’s got boundless hope and optimism despite all kinds of evidence to the contrary. And sooner or later, he will get a harvest which exceeds all expectations; it more than compensates for the excess in sowing.

At least some of the seed needs to fall on open, receptive soil. I think that we all hope that we are the fertile soil that welcomes the word of God that brings forth so much. But when we honestly think about it, the soil of our lives is probably more like the uneven planting of the field in the parable. Right now, we may be too depressed for the Good News of the kingdom – or too busy, too scared, too needy, too tired, too sick or too outraged. Meanwhile the seeds keep raining down on all sides of us, right across our path as we try to make our way, a sleet of seeds behind us, and crunching under our feet with every step we take.

God’s word is so vital that it cannot be discouraged, suppressed or even slowed. Its delivery is constant, universal and wasteful – if that’s what you want to call unending love. And even as you’re reading about it now, another handful of this seed is scattered upon our heads.

How long will we persist in holding out against its life-giving possibilities? We can all come up with a bunch of reasons why we resist the generous seed of God’s grace being sown in our lives. But imagine what happens when we allow the seed to produce its fruit. Then all of creation rejoices because the labor pains have stopped and another free child of God is born!

Every moment of every day contains another smattering of seed from a lavish, trusting, optimistic sower. The question for our prayer reflection today: What will you do with it? What will you allow it to do with you?