2 Corinthians 9.6-11

Luke 8.5-15

The Bible likens the whole earth to a field, and man to a flower of the field. This morning’s parable takes us back to yesterday’s assigned Gospel when the LORD goes through the grainfields with His disciples, plucking the wheat and eating the buds from their hands (Lk 6.1-10). In many ancient manuscripts, the story begins: ‘On the Second Sabbath after the First [Sabbath].’ The story is clearly Paschal. The ‘Second Sabbath’ is the Mystical Sabbath when the LORD’s corpse was placed in the Tomb. The First Sabbath is the Sabbath of creation, the ‘copy’ of the Second Sabbath, which is the ‘Heavenly Pattern’ shown to Moses on Mt Sinai. The disciples following the LORD through the fields, plucking the grain and eating the buds of grain from their hands, is Eucharistic. This is an image of the Church following the Spirit of the risen Christ to the far ends of the earth where man was scattered following the expulsion from Eden. The disciples are an image of the Church faithful gathering wheat from the fields and making it into Prosphora for Holy Eucharist, and eating it from their hands – for that is how the faithful partook of Holy Eucharist in the early Church, as the priests partake of it still today, from their hands.

Do you see the connection? The LORD goes through the fields with His disciples in yesterday’s assigned Gospel. He is the Sower in today’s assigned Gospel, ‘going out’ into the fields, i.e., going out to the far ends of the earth in His Holy Resurrection. He goes out, He ‘rises from’ the Tomb in which His Body was sown in the earth as a Seed, working His salvation in the midst of the earth, and sowing the Seed of His Resurrection over the whole earth through His Holy Apostles, whom He sent into all the world to baptize – i.e., to gather all who are scattered and to raise them from the dead (that is the ‘business’ of the Church!), and to teach them everything they learned from Him.

The far ends of the earth are an icon, a mirror, of our own soul (Gen 11.8-9). In our soul, each of us has been scattered, fragmented, crippled, paralyzed. We have spiritual eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear, throats that make no sound, hands that are withered, feet that are crippled. Our souls are paralyzed making us spiritual corpses; for we have turned away from the LORD God and gone our own way as though we were gods. We have given our love and affection to the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life that are of the world that is passing away; and so, we live in this world returning to the earth, to the ‘dust of death.’ (Ps 22.15)

St Peter tells us that the Seed sown by the Sower to the far ends of the earth is the incorruptible Seed of the living and abiding WORD of God (1 Pt 1.23); it is Jesus Christ, for Christ is the WORD, the Seed. And He is the Logos, the Meaning, carried in all the words of the apostle’s preaching in which He, the Resurrection and the Life, falls as the imperishable Seed of the Resurrection on our ears, and abides in all who receive Him (cf. Jn 15.4). St Paul teaches that it was no accident when Moses spoke not of ‘seeds’ but of the Seed of Abraham, for the Seed of Abraham is Christ. Following St Paul, we note that it is not ‘seeds’ that the Sower sowed throughout the world in our parable this morning; it is a Seed, singular, not plural. The LORD Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, sowed Himself, the Resurrection and the Life, in the fields of the world, to the far ends of the earth. He sows Himself in His Holy Church, His Body, that has been scattered to the far ends of the earth. The Resurrection and the Life has been sown in you wherever you are, even to the far ends of the earth. And you are sown in Him as a seed yourself in Holy Baptism. And, He lives in you, and He abides in you not just as a teaching, but in His very Body and Blood that is risen from the dead, when you receive Him as your food and drink in the Holy Eucharist of the Church.

The Psalmist plays our theme song for this morning: ‘The words [of the Apostle’s preaching and teaching] have gone out to the far ends of the world. In those words, the Father has set a tent for the Sun [His Son, the LORD Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness], who comes forth like a bridegroom from His chamber [the Tomb of His Sabbath Rest]. Like a strong man [as a Man risen from the dead], He runs His course with joy. His rising is from the end of the heavens, His circuit to the end of the heavens, and nothing is hidden from His heat [from the Fire, the Spirit of His Resurrection]. The law of the LORD revives the soul; the testimony of the LORD makes wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD rejoice the heart; the commandment of the LORD enlightens the eyes. More to be desired are they than gold, sweeter than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.’ (Ps 19.4-10)

In many hidden ways, the warmth of the LORD’s Holy Resurrection shines on everyone in the earth. He rose from the dead as the rising Sun, and in His Resurrection, He cast Himself as Incorruptible Seed over the whole earth. He fell, it says, [N.B., the pronoun is singular, not plural!] by the side of the Way, and there He was trodden underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured Him. The birds of the air are the dark spirits of the prince of the power of the air, the devil, the LORD says (v. 12), who works in the children of disobedience, Eph 2.2. And they devoured the Seed; they devoured the LORD? This is Paschal imagery! There is still hope even for those lying beside the road. For the image is of death swallowing the Seed, the LORD; but the Seed, the LORD, destroyed by His death the death that tried to devour Him! The Path is Jesus Christ Himself who, risen from the dead, goes before us into Galilee, into our daily life, to lead us up the Mountain of His Ascension and into the Kingdom of Heaven. The ground beside the Path where the Seed falls, then, is the soul that has fallen away from Christ in her transgressions. [The word for transgression is paraptoma: lying next to a corpse. The soul, then, who is found beside the Path is a soul near death, she is almost a corpse.] She has separated herself from the ‘flock’ of Christ’s sheep, the Church, and made herself vulnerable to the wolf of souls who prowls about like a lion seeking whom he may devour. But as I said, for her there is still hope, for the death that devours the Seed that fell on her has itself been swallowed up in the victory of the LORD’s Cross.

In another place, it says, the LORD fell on rocks, on souls, let’s say, that are rooted in sand and not in the Rock that is Christ; these are souls that are rooted in the flesh, and not in the heart. They pursue the desires of the flesh and become altogether deaf to the cry of their heart for the beauty and goodness of the eternal God; and so they become hard and bitter because the flesh and the values of the world only betray us. They cannot deliver on what they promise, and our souls become angry and hard, like a corpse. And in another place, it says, the LORD fell in the midst of weeds. This takes us back to Gen 3.19; the weeds are the miseries of life that choke the soul who will not repent.

Beneath all these, however, is good earth. The gardener needs only to dig down to uncover it. The good earth is our true self, our heart, created in the image and likeness of God that lies beneath the rocks and the weeds.

Christ has fallen on all of these different types of earth. The Seed of the LORD’s Resurrection has been sown in all of us – for when He Himself was sown like a seed into the ‘dust of death,’ He entered into our death. When He was placed in the Tomb, He was found in the Tomb deep within the tomb of our own heart. When He descended into hell, He was found in the terrifying darkness of our inner loneliness and fear. This is the Psalmist’s ‘midst of the earth’ in which the LORD, in the terrible and sacred mystery of His Holy Pascha, is working His salvation in each one of us even now (Ps 74.12). This is why He is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth (Ps 145.18).

Taking up the ascetical disciplines of the Cross – turning away from sin, not giving in to lust, anger, envy and all the other passions through the disciplines of prayer and fasting, and through practicing mercy even to our enemy – is like taking up a hoe to till the earth of our soul to uncover the good earth that we are most truly. Taking up the ‘hoe of the Cross,’ and working the ground of our soul through the ascetical disciplines of prayer, this is how we receive the incorruptible Seed of God in our soul, so that our soul begins to revive, our mind begins to grow in divine wisdom, our heart begins to rejoice, and the eyes of our soul begin to see the imperishable beauty of God that has been sown in all the earth in the fiery Glory of His Holy Resurrection. And we may begin to reap the fruit of eternal life and joy even now, in the fellowship of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!