31- THE STORY OF THE SOWER

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In those days, Jesus was already popular in Capernaum. The people sought after him to listen as he spoke about the Kingdom of God. I think they also came to listen to his stories since he had a knack for story-telling…. We who belonged to the group became more excited each day….

Peter: This is it, pal! The people are beginning to open their eyes!

James: I told you Peter, this Moreno from Nazareth’s very smart. I always thought that with him, we’ll go far. I think I’m right!

Peter: Hey guys, why don’t we go to the wharf?… We’ll all roast to death here inside!… Let’s go, Jesus!

We left Peter’s house when the sun was about to drown itself into the lake. The heat was terrible that day. There was not even a wisp of air in our midst…. We sat at the lakeshore beside the wharf, awaiting the cool afternoon breeze…. Suddenly, old Gaspar, his wife, the twins from the big house and my father Zebedee appeared with Samuel, the limping one, and a number of fishermen.

One Woman: Hey, you from Nazareth. You spoke with firmness in the synagogue the other day. Come on… tell us in all honesty… anyway, you can trust us…. What are you really up to?

Jesus: Not I, neighbor, but the One from up there.

Woman: What do you mean the One from up there?

Jesus: That’s right, God is weary of waiting and said: “Be prepared, ’cuz my turn has come.”

One Man: God said that?

Jesus: Yes He did, and cast the seed in the air.

Man: What seed are you talkin’ about? You?

Jesus: What else but the seed of the Kingdom, my friend.

Woman: We ain’t gettin’ nowhere. Not even Solomon can understand you!

Jesus: That the Kingdom of God has come, my compa¬nions! There’s no need to wait anymore. It’s already in our midst!

Woman: If it’s true, then where’s it? At least I should see it around.

Jesus: Nor do you see the wind, but it blows. The sun eagerly reflects its rays even if it hasn’t risen from behind the mountains. The Kingdom of God is like that. You don’t have to look above or below you. Nor do you have to go far looking for it, for it’s just around you… it’s in our midst!… in everybody’s midst…. Where there are two or three of us who want a change, then the hand of God’s there!

Men: If that’s so, then count my fingers and my hands, and everybody else’s! You’ll find out how many we are!

Jesus: Yes, we’re a considerable number now… I just hope we won’t have the same fate as my uncle in Nazareth….

Another Man: What happened to him…?!

Jesus: To my uncle, Jonathan and….

Peter: Hey, we can’t hear anything from here!… Speak louder, dammit!

More and more people gathered at the lakeshore… They came from their houses, sweating after a long day’s work… Even the men who were drinking in the tavern came closer….

Jesus: As I was saying, this uncle of mine, Jonathan…

Peter: Not even Joshua’s trumpet can silence the people. It’s a big crowd we have here.

James: And damn this heat!

Peter: Listen, red hair. I’ve got an idea…. Why don’t we move in to Gaspar’s boat… we give it a little push and from the water we’ll be able to see the people better and everybody can hear…. Whatta ya say, Jesus?

Jesus: Are you out of your mind, Peter? Why do we all have to go into the lake?

Peter: Don’t tell me you’re scared of the water, Moreno…

Jesus: No, well… but… this water is already a little murky…

James: To hell with these farmers!…. They’re even more scared of the water than the cats are!

Peter: Come on, forget all this fuss and let’s go to the boat… Unfasten the rope and stretch it a few cubits!

James, Peter and I went with Jesus on Gaspar’s boat, staying a little away from the shore….

One Woman: Where the hell are you all goin’?!

Peter: We ain’t goin’ nowhere, lady. We’re just looking for a better place. With this noise, we won’t understand each other… Go ahead, Jesus, with your story about your Uncle Jonathan….

Jesus: You see, my Uncle Jonathan went out every summer to sow in his little piece of land… just like all the farmers did… I was a little boy then when this happened but I remember when one day I saw him cross the village carrying a sack of seeds on his shoulders, and I ran after him….

Little Jesus: Uncle Jonathan!… Uncle Jonathan!…. Wait for me uncle…!

Jonathan: And where’s this little brat goin’ in such a big hurry?

Little Jesus: I’m goin’ with you Uncle, so you can teach me how to sow….

Jonathan: Oh?… So you wanna learn how to till the soil instead of being a carpenter like your father? Very well then; I’ll teach you to be a good farmer…. Come li’l boy, let’s begin on that end… I’ll teach you how to scatter the seeds and sing the planting songs…. Listen…. La, la, larara…

Jesus: So we reached the small farm. Uncle Jonathan and I passed through the posts marking the land. Then he slipped his big brawny hand inside the sack, took a handful of seeds and threw them at random….

Jonathan: This is good seed, my boy…! May God bring the rains soon that the bushes may take roots well!

Jesus: He took another handful again and threw the seeds into the air….

Little Jesus: Hey, Uncle, the seeds are coming out from the sack..

Jonathan: What’re you saying, snot-nose?

Little Jesus: I said some of the seeds are falling from the sack… Look, Uncle, there!

Jonathan: Of course my son; that always happens. Some seeds fall on the other side of the posts while some fall along the path…

Little Jesus: Do you pick them up again, Uncle?

Jonathan: No, my boy. Don’t waste your time on that…. Leave them for the birds that they can have somethin’ to eat, the poor creatures… Come, keep on walkin’, …in a short time, the sun’ll be up and we’ll be sweating like pigs… La, la, larara…

Jesus: Then, when I was already grown-up, I began to liken some people to those seeds that fall along the borders of the farm…. It reminds me that one has to work hard so that this world will be just. These seeds also remind me of people who are indifferent, who don’t care about others, but think only of themselves. Their heart is calloused and dry, as dry as the soil along the roads… The Kingdom of God cannot thrive there….

Jonathan: Now my boy, slip your hand into the sack and take all the seeds that you can and cast them into the air, like I do…. Do it firmly, dammit! Haven’t you eaten yet?

Little Jesus: I have, Uncle. I drank a jug of milk before coming here….

Jonathan: You gotta prove that to me…C’mon, throw the seeds far and away!… That’s it…! No, not over there… What are you doin’?

Little Jesus: Why not, Uncle?

Jonathan: You rascal! Can’t you see those thistles?…If you sow along this part where the bushes grow, and since the thistles grow taller than the bushes, then the plants choke and die…. Remember that, little boy. Come on, don’t doze off, ’cuz we got a lotta work to do… La, la, larara….

Jesus: When I grew up, I thought that money and the easy life were the thorns growing by our side. There are people who talk so much about justice and they firmly agree. They want so many changes for the world, and beautiful words fall from their lips… But when they’re asked to share what they have with their neighbors, they have a change of heart… and they shy away… Yes my friends; money’s the bad seed that’s in conflict with the Kingdom of God.

Little Jesus: Here Uncle, look…! There ain’t no thorns here… Gimme a handful to sow along this part…!

Jonathan: Yes, my boy, this is good soil…. But don’t be deceived… You gotta be very careful… as you can never be sure…. Come, put a piece of stick here….

Little Jesus: Where?

Jonathan: Here… remove the soil… dig a little…

Little Jesus: Hold it, Uncle…. Hey, these are rocks!… and there are plenty of them…!

Jonathan: That’s why my boy, don’t be too trusting…. Those seeds you have sown will grow, but when the summer heat comes and the soil is not very deep the seeds will not grow roots, the young plants will get scorched and wither. Come my son; we have to move fast or else the sun will fry our heads too… La, la, larara….

Jesus: In time, I thought that the seeds that fell on rocky ground were like people who really want to do something for others, and so start out with enthusiasm and hard work… but later, when problems come their way, when the powerful try to stop them and begin throwing people in jail…, putting their lives in danger, then they lose heart and back out. These people don’t have good roots.

Little Jesus: What about this part, Uncle?

Jonathan: Yes, here, my boy. Look at this soil… it’s black and fertile, like that dark girl in the Song of Songs. Yes, this will give good harvest!

Little Jesus: Shall I sow the seeds, Uncle?

Jonathan: Why, of course, son!.. And use both hands!… Come on, move fast!…. And do it with enthusiasm, dammit, ’cuz this land will yield plenty, I assure you! La, la, larara…

Jesus: This is the good soil that produces good people: those who have a big heart, those who get involved with people in spite of their fears, those who risk their lives and their money, working tirelessly to give their children and their children’s children a world different from ours. These are the kind that God needs for His Kingdom!

Jonathan: Pff…. There ain’t no more seeds left, my boy. The earth is full of seeds. You gotta take care of ’em so that they won’t perish… In a few days, God willing, and with the rains, everything’ll be covered with young plants. And in a few months, they’re gonna be as tall as the bushes, with sunlight and rain cultivating the grains… You’ll see, snot-nose, how beautiful this farm will become… Some bushes will produce heads that yield 30 grains, others 60 and still others yield 100 grains. Yes sir!

Little Jesus: I’ll go with you on that day, Uncle…

Jonathan: But of course. We gotta leave early, after a good shot of wine to give us strength. After which comes the time for harvesting, as the Lord has set it!

Little Jesus: Are you gonna teach me how to cut the crops, Uncle?

Jonathan: Sure, I’m gonna teach you how to cut and sing. I see how willing you are to work, although apparently, music isn’t your cup of tea! C’mon, listen to me closely, and sing with me…. La, la, larara…

Jesus: Yes, my friends, let’s all open our ears and listen to the story of the sower! Everyone must look inside to see which soil one is like!

It was night already when Jesus finished talking. The tide was beginning to rise and the boat where we were gathered was moving gently…. The people returned to their houses, whispering among themselves on the road…. We returned to the wharf and stayed a little while talking and discussing with Jesus… At night, after a long and hot day, the wind began to blow over the vast round sea of Galilee.

*Comments*
The parables are perhaps the texts in the gospel where we can “hear” Jesus most faithfully and “see” the environment where he grew up and developed himself. In the parables where he makes use of farm images, we see Jesus, the peasant, who is used to working on the farm since childhood. To sow the seeds randomly, despite a chance of wasting, reflects the lack of skill of the sower. But that isn’t so. The parable of the sower describes in detail the usual manner of planting crops in Palestine. This parable corresponds – like that of the mustard seed – to the beginning of the Gospel preaching. In telling this story, Jesus manifests his unlimited trust in the Lord who in the end, despite the usual losses and difficulties that accompany this agricultural activity, will provide the sower with abundant harvest at least on a piece of land. Jesus is so confident that this will happen, and so great is his joy over God’s plan that he exaggerates the final yield to a large extent. He speaks of a yield of thirty, sixty and even a hundredfold of the harvest. In Palestine, a 7.5 yield from a harvest was regular. A tenfold yield was a good harvest. In speaking of God’s generosity, Jesus often exaggerates his comparisons. It is a way of saying that such generosity has no bounds and that God surprises us with more than we expect when we perform our work. Aside from its being the “parable of the indefatigable sower” it is likewise known as the parable of the “lands.” A very ancient catechetical tradition adopted by the Gospels tried to decipher the meaning of each element of this particular story of Jesus. This led to the formulation of a catalog with four types of people, according to their reaction to the message of the Gospel (the Word). In this line, “to listen to the message,” we must not translate it or understand it as simple intellectual knowledge of God. “Orthodox” people declare that they “believe in everything that the Holy Mother Church” dictates, but this does not hold water if they don’t live the message. The evangelical message repeats that no one understands God and knows nor accepts his Word if one does not accept others, particularly the poor (James 2:14-23). The Christian God is only accepted or rejected through an attitude of justice with which we work. Medellin formulated it thus: “Where there is unjust social, political, economic and cultural inequality, there is a rejection of the gift of peace of God, and much more, a rejection of the Lord Himself,” (Document of Peace).

In this episode, Jesus concretizes that of “listening to the message”: “Working for justice in this world,” “sharing what one has with others,” “working for others,” “risking one’s life and money”… These are the various translations of the essence of the biblical formula, which is “working for justice.” The prophets likewise converted into concrete examples what ought to be done to remain faithful to the Word of God. (Is 1:10-20 and 58:6-10).

(Mt 13:1-23; Mk 4:1-9; Lk 8:4-8)

31- THE STORY OF THE SOWER

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