Many years ago, my Grandfather planted a seed within me that I will never forget. I was around the age of 8 and spent most weekends with my grandparents. Why? Because they spoiled the heck out of me.
Now my Grandfather spent most of his time outdoors in his garden, planting, cultivating and harvesting. He grew everything under the sun, at least it seemed that way to me.
He was a man of few words, so when he spoke, I listened. One day we were sitting on the back porch and he was whittling a stick and chewing tobacco. This was his favourite form of relaxation and reflection after a hard day’s work. And this was usually the time he would say something profound.
Suddenly, he pulled out his gold pocketwatch and gave it to me and said, “it’s yours.” I still have that watch today; like me it runs a little slow. Then he planted a seed within me.
Grandpa told me that he had won the watch in a poker game and then he pointed to a galvanized washtub. That was back in the day when you automatic washer was on the back porch with its hand cranking wringer. After wringing out your clothes, you rinsed them in the galvanized washtubs.
He pointed to the washtub and said this, “Stevie, I ‘ve won a washtub full of money and lost a washtub full of money, gambling. Don’t gamble.” And for the life of me, he never ever mentioned it again.
Nonetheless, it was a seed well planted, for I have never gambled. Okay, okay, let me be completely honest, I have never gambled with money, but I do ride a motorcycle.
If my grandfather were alive today, I do not think he would be all that surprised that, per capita, Oklahoma has more casinos that any state in the union.
Usually on Sunday afternoons, after mass, my buddy and I will ride our motorcycles to the candy factory in Dexter, Kansas. On the way, we pass by two large casinos just this side of the state line, and aside from the Coronavirus pandemic, their parking lots are always full.
Tim is Roman Catholic and we both have remarked that we wished our church parking lots were that full on Sundays.
Our gospel lesson today is also about planting seeds. It is entitled “The parable of the sower.” Jesus used such parables, simple stories of daily life, to teach deeper spiritual truths.
The disciples may not be fully able to understand the depths of God’s love for humanity, so much so that he would empty himself of his divinity and incarnate himself in human form, to walk among them and teach them how to love God and love their neighbor.
They may not be fully able to understand that Jesus Christ was the “Word of God (capital W), and in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among them.
They may not be fully able to understand that in Christ, “All thing came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Christ was life, and the life was the light of all peoples.”
They may not be fully able to understand these deeper spiritual truths…but they did understand sowing, planting and cultivating the gospel of Christ in hearts and lives.
They did understand sheep and a shepherd who lays his life down for his sheep, who is willing to leave the 99 and go search for the one who was lost.
They did understand casting their nets and fishing for those souls who were lost and perishing, and healing those who were sick and dying.
They did understand about finding ways to love and reconcile rebellious and disobedient prodigal sons and daughters who squandered their inheritance in pleasure seeking, ending up penniless and starving.
They did understand how the most unlikely people can come to their rescue when they have been beaten and robbed, while their own people turned their backs on them.
These things they could understand.
In “the parable of the Sower,” Jesus illustrated the deeper spiritual truth that the Kingdom of God is like seeds being sown, where some seeds are snatched away by those who harm and abuse.
Where some seeds are cared for and nurtured for a while, however, eventually the struggles and stresses of life, depression, fear and anxiety overcome them and they wither.
Where some seeds are choked off by the thorns of addiction, domestic violence, broken marriages, and chasing after the false gods of power and wealth.
Where some seeds however, find fertile soil, where they are nurtured by loving families, by gifted teachers, mentors and coaches; by faithful parishes and priests who teach them how much God loves them, and that loving God and loving their neighbor will be the most important things they will ever do.
These seeds will be further nurtured and led by the Holy Spirit to green pastures, beside still waters, and in paths of righteousness; they will even be led through the valley of the shadow of death where their souls will be restored.
My friends, we must realise that we are God’s seeds sown in this world to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, for the fruit of the Spirit is: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.”
Can you think of anything more needed in our world today?
We are God’s seeds sown in fields so often filled with the weeds of doubt and despair; in fields so often forgotten, neglected, parched and undernourished.
We are God’s seeds sown in fields ravaged by disaster and discouragement; in fields flooded with sickness and sorrow.
We are God’s seeds sown in fields overrun with division, disharmony and disillusionment; this is certainly the case in America in 2020 with the pandemic, and political and racial unrest.
But rest assured, my friends, the seeds God plants will bear fruit…and as the prophet Isaiah reminds us in our Old Testament lesson today, God’s seeds will not be wasted, they “will not return empty, but shall accomplish that for which they are purposed, and succeed in the things for which they are sent.
On this we can be sure, and on this we can depend.