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The Sower.


Chronologically, this is the first of the Savior's parables. It tells how the Divine word is like a seed, and how differently people receive it, depending upon the disposition of their souls. This is how the Evangelist Matthew recorded this parable:

"Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Mt. 13:1-23).

In this parable, ethically roughened people are likened to a wayside. The word of God cannot penetrate into their hearts, as if it falls on the surface of their consciousness and is soon razed from memory, without getting under their skin or arousing high feelings. People of variable mood are likened to stony places because their good impulses are as shallow as a thin coat of earth that covers the surface of a rock. These people, even if the truth of the Good News intrigues them for a moment in their lives, are neither able to give up their ambitions for the sake of this truth, change their habitual way of life, nor start a steady struggle against their sinful nature. They despond and fall to temptation after the first trial. When speaking of the seed falling amidst thorns, Christ means people burdened with earthly labours, greedy for gain, and fond of pleasures. Like weeds, vanity and the chase after illusory comforts has choked up everything good and holy in them. And, finally, people with hearts sensitive to the good, ready to change their life and put it in line with the teaching of Christ, are likened to the rich earth. These people hear the word of God, firmly decide to follow Him, and bring forth the fruit of their good works hundredfold, sixtyfold, and thirtyfold depending upon their capabilities and effort.

The Lord ends this parable with the significant words: "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." By these final words the Lord knocks at the heart of every man, calling each to a deeper look into his own soul, for better understanding of his own self does this soul not resemble the barren land, covered only with the weeds of sinful wishes? Even so, He is not calling us to despair, for the earth unsuitable for sowing is not condemned forever. The effort and labor of one who tends the earth can make it fertile. So we can and must put ourselves right by fasting, repentance and good works; and thus struggle to become faithful and pious, even if we be spiritual idlers and lovers of sin.

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