07 - Parable of the Sower, Oct 17, 2010

Galatians 2:16-20

Luke 8:5-15

Even when the Savior answers His disciples’ question on the meaning of this parable of the sower, He answers them in a riddle. He tells them that the Seed is the “Word of God”, but He doesn’t tell them what the “Word of God” is. To His disciples, He says: “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to the others it is given in parables, so that “seeing, they will not see; and hearing, they will not understand.”

Here, the Savior is quoting from one of His prophets, Isaiah;[1] but the meaning of this puzzling saying is made clear from the Psalmist: “The idols of the nations,” he says, “are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have eyes but they see not. They have ears, but they hear not. Like them are those who make them and put their trust in them.”[2] The “others”, then, to whom the Lord speaks in parables are those who live for silver and gold. They are lovers of money. They put their trust in their wealth and in the wisdom of their own opinions. Such people are blind and deaf to the mysteries of God, because they have no love for them. Their love is for the lusts and pleasures of the world, silver and gold, the work of their own hands, the wisdom of their own opinions. But, to the degree of our love for God, to that degree, I believe, is it given to us to know the mysteries of God. And so, the Lord explains His parable to His disciples, i.e. to all those who want to follow Him and to love Him; but, as I say, He does so even still in a riddle.

I believe it pleases the Lord that His disciples want to love Him, because He loves them. In His love for His disciples, He wants them to know the mysteries of God because, in fact, He is the mystery of God. The Savior wants His disciples to know the mysteries of God because He wants them to know Him. More than that, the mystery of God is Christ in you. We read this from St Paul’s letter to the Colossians, our assigned reading for last week.[3] Christ wants you to know the “mysteries of God” because He wants to abide in you so that you may abide in Him. He wants to cleanse you, to raise you from death to life, so that He can abide in you and give to you the wealth of His divine glory, the immeasurable riches of His grace in His kindness and compassion and goodness.[4] He wants you to share in His uncreated, divine life. He wants to make you partakers of His divine nature.[5] He wants to dwell in your heart, so that you may be grounded and rooted in the love of God and so comprehend with all the saints the breadth, the length, the height and depth and come to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God in Christ,[6] in whom the fullness of God dwells bodily.[7]

The Seed of the “mysteries of God”, which is the Word of God in this parable of the sower, is Christ Himself. If I were to hazard a guess as to why the Savior does not say that the Seed is Himself, the Word of God who was in the beginning with God, in whom all things were made, so that He leaves the impression that the seed is His teaching, I would say it is because He reveals Himself only to those who love Him or at least want to love Him; and only those love Him who receive and keep the word of His teaching, who practice obedience to the words of His commandments. In other words, the true disciples of Christ are those who take up the work of repentance and dedicate their life to the work of crucifying on the cross of Christ their love for the idols of the world, the work of men’s hands, their love for the lusts and pleasures of the world, the wisdom of their own opinions, so that they may be united to Christ in the likeness of His death and so be united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection.  Only those who receive and keep the word of Christ’s teaching come to know that Christ Himself is the Word of His teaching; He Himself is the Word of God whom the Seed in this morning’s parable represents, the Word of God who, like a seed falling to the ground, came down to earth from Heaven out of His love for mankind, looking to sow Himself in your heart, that you could come to know the mystery of God that was hidden from the ages: the mystery of Christ, the Seed, the Word of God, in you.

Again, from our reading in Colossians this last week, St Paul writes: “So then, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him – i.e., live in Him. Root yourselves in Him, and build yourselves up in Him and be established in the Faith that you were taught – i.e., that you received in your baptism.”[8] Our Lord makes clear in His explanation of the parable this morning to His disciples that the soil in which falls the seed that represents Himself is our heart, our inner man, our invisible, personal center, where our will originates, where we secretly live, hidden away from the eyes of the world. How many of us are even aware of our own secret heart? How many of us really know ourselves in the depths of our soul? How many of us choose to turn away from the surface of the flesh in order to walk the mystical path that descends into the cave, the tomb of our heart to find out who we really are and the Heavenly Bridegroom who comes at Midnight, the only Lover of mankind, Jesus Christ the eternal Word of God whom our erotic love really desires beneath the constant changes of this passing life? How many of us live on the side of that mystical way that leads into the heart, among the rootless weeds of the passions, or on the stony ground of simmering anger and resentment, or among the thorns of anxiety, worry and fear, so that these, and not the joy of Christ in you are what shape our lives and govern our words, our deeds, our moods and our feelings? When we are blind and deaf to the deeps of our own heart and to the Only Lover of mankind whom our hearts truly desire and ardently yearn for, that is when we become easy prey to the devil; or, as St Paul writes, to the philosophies of the world, to the empty deceit of human traditions because then we are rooted in the wisdom of the human mind and not in the wisdom that is Christ.[9]

It is therefore the case that when you put into practice the word of Christ’s teaching, that you are receiving the divine Seed that came down from Heaven, the Seed that is Christ Himself; and, when you were buried in the waters of your baptism, that Seed was sown in your deep heart. In your soul, you are now pregnant with the divine Seed of the Word of God. Through the sacramental mysteries of the Church, you have been taken up into the mysteries of God, and Christ is in you. And so, when you receive the words of God that fall on you in the Church – the words of the Church’s prayers, the words of her doctrines, her Scriptures, the lives of her saints – you are receiving Christ Himself, the Word of God. And when you keep the words of Christ which He gives to you in His holy Church, you are rooting your mind and your heart, your eyes, your ears and all your senses, your moods, your feelings, your thoughts, your intentions, in the Christ who, through the mystery of His Incarnation and His sacred Passion, is in you because of His great love for you. For, when He buried Himself in the tomb of His Holy Pascha, He buried Himself in the hellish deeps of your heart, so that when you receive the word of God and keep it, you are receiving and holding the crucified Christ into your heart as the tomb received and held the crucified body of Christ on Great and Holy Friday, as the ground receives and holds the seed in its depths. And when you walk in Christ, i.e., when you live your daily life in Christ, when you receive the words of Christ, the Word of God, into your ears and root your mind in them rather than in fantasies and vain imagination, and when you cherish those words in your heart and practice them with your hands and your feet, then the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead begins also to work in your heart. He quickens it. He makes it alive in Christ. And, because Christ is in you, your heart begins to sprout and send out shoots like Christ coming forth from the tomb in His Holy Resurrection; and, like the seed that bursts through the ground to blossom as the rose, you rise from your spiritual death in Christ, born again as a child of God to grow into the likeness of God, because the Seed that is Christ, the Word of God, is in you. And so you attain to the mystery of God in which and for which the world was made

You see, then, that when Christ says to His disciples: “to you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God,” He is saying that to them it is given to know Christ Himself, personally, immediately, in the inexpressible experience of partaking of Him in the love of God that surpasses all knowledge. What, then, might be the fruit that such a good heart brings forth? Surely, it would be the mystery of Christ in you, so that it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us. And if Christ lives in us, that means that the uncreated life of God is in us, the Life that is the Light of the world, the Light of fellowship with God in the love of God that surpasses all knowledge.

This is the Gospel, the Good News, preached to the world by the Church. And it is in the glorious hope shed in our hearts by the light of this Gospel that inspires us to become Christ’s disciples and to walk in Him who is Himself the Way, to live according to His word, so that Christ Himself, the Word of God, may live in us and make us partakers of His own divine nature in the love of God. Amen.

[1] Isa 6:9-10

[2] Ps 135:15-18

[3] Col 1:27

[4] Eph 2:7

[5] II Pt 1:4

[6] Eph 3:17-19

[7] Col 2:9

[8] Col 2:6-7

[9] Col 2:8