The Four Kinds of Soil

Luke 8: 4-15
1 Tim 6: 13-16 / Psa 100

…the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
(Luke 8:15)

In virtuous hearts, God’s fertile soil,
The Word of Jesus shall take root.
By His grace and by our toil
We’ll reap the Holy Spirit’s fruit.

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, He told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When He said this, He called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” His disciples asked Him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” (Luke 8:4-15)

Reflection

This is one of the most beautiful parables that our Lord teaches us, and tells us plaintively the different kinds of people who receive (or do not receive) the Word of God, His Good News of salvation. The first type of people are those who are not receptive to the Message at all. These are usually the tough “self-made” men and women who live in the fast lane. Their lifestyle is hardened by the practicalities and pragmatism of a modern, secular world. They are the ones Jesus speaks of, who, ‘though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not understand.’ The Word of God cannot penetrate their hard shell; it has no relevance to them, as they say, “No thanks, I’m perfectly fine as I am.” These are the type of people whose lives need to be plowed over if the seed is ever to sprout in them.

Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture… they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” The second type of people who hear the Word, full of enthusiasm at first are those whose faith are “skin-deep” or artificial, but deep down their hearts are hard, and set on material gains first. They are called “fair weather Christians” because they cannot sustain their commitment in times of trials. This kind are easily enticed to join other faiths because they lack the roots to be nourished by the sacraments, and to anchor on the traditions and doctrines of the Catholic Church. They need to undergo formation and the guidance of a loving community in order to develop a deeper appreciation of a Christ-centered life.

Then there are “those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Worries, riches and pleasures of this world are the main stumbling blocks that prevent us from finding the true treasure in life – that of having a faithful and loving relationship with our Savior and Creator. These “thorns in life” stunt our Christian growth, because worries erode our trust in God; riches distract us, and make the weeds of envy and greed grow in us; and pleasures of this world separate us from the virtues and values taught by our Lord Jesus Christ. As Jesus warned, we cannot serve both God and mammon. St. Paul exhorts us not to worry, but to put our total trust in Divine Providence. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6) Do not worry, but do not put your trust in your wealth either. We endanger the fate of our soul if we forget that we are just stewards of our riches, and then use them for our own pleasure.

Jesus exhorts us to be like the fourth type of soil: well-prepared, cleaned of weeds, and fertilized with the virtues of humility (humus soil), obedience, piety, fortitude, and all the other values that He has taught us in the Gospel. God can make us produce a “bumper crop” if only we are willing to leave our comfort zones, and turn away from the indulgences of this world. Living and sharing the Word of God by being “poor in spirit” will make us become rich and fruitful in the vineyard of the Lord.

Lord, as Your servant St. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) Lord Jesus, Your Word is the nourishment of our souls. Thank You for giving us the grace to receive Your precious words of wisdom and salvation. Amen.

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