Audio for Homily HERE

Luke 8:5-15

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

The readings are so rich this morning, both St. Paul’s words to the Church in Corinth and our Lord’s parable, so I was a little torn – but I think we’ll look at this parable of our Lord, and how He explains its meaning, and also how it applies in our lives as Christians today.

So we have the parable, which in brief is the story of a man who goes out to sow seed. This is a different manner of planting than sometimes we think about, and different than the way it was done when I was growing up. We were very meticulous, when planting a garden, to make sure that all of the seeds landed on the good prepared soil, and then that those seeds were covered with soil and immediately watered. Every seed had the best possible chance for growing. But in days gone by, even the days of my grandparents, sowing seed in the garden was much more like what our Lord describes in the parable. The soil is prepped, and then someone walks around and spreads the seed. And as our Lord tells us, the seed falls in all sorts of different places, and depending on where it falls, it may have a good chance to grow, or it may have very little chance at all.

The disciples, as they often had to do, asked our Lord for an explanation of this parable. The seed is the word of God. This is an important phrase, and we would give it two meanings. Christ was going around preaching the word of God to the people. In other words, the word of God is literally words – the preaching of the Gospel. The word of God is also Christ Himself – He is the Logos or the Word of God. In our Orthodox Tradition, this is the more important level of this phrase – the Word of God is Christ, is the Truth. Christ incorporates within His person the Gospel message, and He is the one who is our salvation. The message is not a philosophy or a teaching or even a belief – the Gospel that we preach is a person, Jesus Christ.

So in the language of the parable, Christ, the fulness of Truth, is spread out among all the peoples of the world. Then those people have various reactions. Some are by the wayside, they pay little attention to Christ, and the devil comes and distracts their minds so they cannot be saved. Some are like seeds on the rock, who rejoice and the Word begins to grow in their hearts, but they develop little maturity and they fall away from the Word once they come upon hard times and times of temptation. Some are like seeds among the thorns, they begin to grow, but they are choked by the cares and concerns and pleasures of this world, and they also fail to grow into maturity in Christ. And then some are the good soil, where the Word of God falls and takes root, and grows to maturity, producing much fruit.

I would say that we can apply the meaning of this parable in two ways. [We could actually think about it in many ways, but today I will briefly consider two.]

Firstly, to those who are outside of the Church, this tells us the various ways that people will react to the preaching of the Gospel. And this is how, in my former life, we always talked about the parable – people will respond to the message of Christ in different ways, our duty is to share the Gospel and God will do the rest. This certainly is a legitimate way to think about the parable, but for those of us in the Church, this way of thinking doesn’t help us much in our daily life in Christ. One of the many things we gather for this morning is, as St. Paul says, to be fed with meat – to be taught about Christ and the spiritual life in a deeper way that challenges us and helps us grow.

So the question then becomes, how do I relate to this parable? This provides us with a chance to evaluate our lives in Christ, to repent of our failings and to redirect ourselves properly toward God. Obviously, we have heard the Word of God – we’ve heard the Gospel, and we’ve known the working of Christ in our lives. So what surface are we?

Are we like the wayside, barely listening, barely paying attention, and allowing the devil to come and snatch the word from our ears so that we never grow in Christ? This is a tragic position to be in – and in our Lord’s explanation of the parable, He says these people will not believe and will not be saved. We have to take the Word within us, nurture it, and allow it to grow.

Or, perhaps we’re like the rock, going through periods of excitement and growth, only to lose it when temptation comes our way. This is a place where many Christians find themselves. We grow, we pray, we read, we nurture our relationship with Christ, but in times of temptation or hardship, instead of running to Christ, we take care of things in our own way, and we almost always end up falling away from Christ. Eventually, most of us return to Christ again – so we get stuck in this pendulum swinging of growing and falling. We’re certainly trying – but God has called us to so much more. In maturity and steadfastness, God can give us so much more.

Maybe we’re more like the seed among thorns, who do some growing for a time, but eventually are caught up in the cares and concerns of the world. Again, like with the rock, many of us find ourselves here. We began our Christian life with ardor and excitement, but eventually we’ve found ourselves overwhelmed with worldly things. Whether it’s jobs, money, possessions, children, alcohol, sex – we can have an unhealthy relationship with any physical thing. The remedy is to see things as they really are. All of the things of this world will pass away – all pleasure will end, the satisfaction of possessions and such will eventually wear out. Only the things of God last forever. If we’ve allowed ourselves to become distracted from Christ and caught up in the cares of the world, this parable is very much a reminder of where we need to be.

Finally, we’re presented with a vision of what we’re called to be. Good ground, receiving the Word with a noble and good heart, keeping it, and bearing fruit for God in patience. This ground nurtures the seed at all times; nothing is more important to these people than Christ. And this is what we’re called to – to give Christ the first place in all things, to grow in Him, so that He can share with us His life. The more we grow in Christ, the more fully He can share His life with us, and the more completely we become what we were created to be from the beginning. This is our goal; a goal we need to know, and to strive for – and as we fall short, as we all do, to repent and to return to God and to once again offer ourselves as living soil for the Word of God.

May God grant us all the grace to be the good soil, rich with grace and the desire to nurture the Word of God within us, for life of the world and for its salvation.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Author Matthew Jackson