notre dame montreal


Parable of the sower and the soils

Sermon on Matthew 13 The Parable of the Sower :24-39 25 July 2017  

The Reverend Canon Charles Royden

Once upon a time parables were treated much more as allegory, all of the different part of the parable had symbolic meaning. So in the parable of the Good Samaritan Jerusalem was seen as the Holy City, Jericho was the world, Jesus was the Good Samaritan, the priest is the law, the Levite the prophets etc.

Now we have come to recognise parable as having much more a single message rather than all of the bits requiring interpretation. Thanks especially to a German theologian Julicher. However in the parable today we have an exception to that rule, we know Jesus intended for there to be meanings attached to parts of the story because he explained those meaning himself.

  • The seed is the message of the kingdom - Nothing wrong with the seed
  • The Sower is God - nothing wrong with the sower
  • Seed sown along the path is like when people do not understand the message
  • Seed sown on rocky ground would have been heated up quickly it would germinate but have no roots so it was like somebody who joyfully hears the word but because they have no roots they literally burn out.
  • The seed among thorns is those who hear the word but the worries and cares of life take over like taking the kids to football, girls to ballet
  • The seed in good soil is one who hears the words, understands it and takes it to heart and it grows and is fruitful.

Jesus tells us that the seed, the message of the kingdom, is spread wide all over the place. We must not reject it, neither must we accept it in a superficial manner.
Faith which is skin deep is not true faith at all. It might be initially enthusiastic but if we do not let God’s word deep into our souls then we will burn out and be useless.
Jesus tells us that he wants nothing short of deep rooted faith so that we can endure and produce growth shown in fruitful obedience.
This is true for ourselves and it is of course true for our church. In Revelation the church was criticised because it was outwardly successful but it was shallow. Going to church can be a pleasant thing to do, we meet like minded people who share our core beliefs. But Jesus sounds a warning, he tells that our faith must be more than an outward clothing, it must deep in our souls so that our wills are transformed

What does this mean
It will mean that that the values of the kingdom become our values now.
Jesus made this easy for us in one way because he showed us how we should live and what it means to be obedient. He cared for people who it might have been thought he could be excused from worrying about. He cared for and sought out the unloved and the lost, the frail ones and those in need. he treated everybody as a child of God, and he was willing to take on powerful vested interests even when it proved to be costly in terms of his own life.
That part is easy, seeing what we should do !

The problem is that we see only too clearly what is expected of us and it seems a tough call. It was tough for Jesus and it ended up in him losing his life.
To be faithful to Jesus is as counter cultural for us as it was in Jesus time. The task seems too great.

So I leave you with something from Saint Therese of Lisieux, who Pope Pious X called the greatest saint of modern times. She lived 1873 - 1897. I like the story of her life because she was somebody who deliberately avoided fame. This is so contrary to many folks today whose only aim is to be famous, celebrities whose lives are lived on Facebook and Instagram who are celebrities just because they are famous !
In contrast she lived a hidden life and wanted to be unknown. She said
I love only simplicity, I have a horror of pretence’
The important lesson she teaches us is that whilst most of us will never achieve anything very well known, in choosing what she called ’her little way’ she became an extraordinary person. Most of us will never be famous but we can make a difference, in little ways we can choose to be different. To let the seed take root in our lives and as it does to allow our lives to be changed so that we live as though we truly belonged to God’s kingdom.