22 Sept. Saturday of Week Twenty Four
1 Cor 15:25ff. What is sown as mutable rises to new, incorruptible life. Our bodies will resemble the risen Jesus.
Luke 8:4ff. The parable of the seed and the sower is explained only to the apostles to whom all mysteries are revealed.
The Mysterious Potential
A divine potential simmers in the depths of each human being. Both Jesus and Paul compare it to a seed, buried in the ground. Looking at the seed before it is planted, one hardly suspects what a flower is to develop from it. The process by which the seed “dies” or disintegrates within the earth cannot be rushed. It needs not only time but also a silent waiting within the dark, warm earth.
Our inner life is mystery, linked to the heavenly person whose likeness we bear, and God’s action within us is told in parables (Gospel). While we cannot yet grasp the mode of existence God plans for us in heaven, yet we already feel the stirrings of our future life within us, as a pregnant mother sense her child. In one way this mystery seems so fragile, even non-existent in its gradual, silent evolution; in another way it is the deepest, truest part of ourselves. We have the ability to ignore and suppress the mystery, yet tenaciously the seed preserves its life and by its very dissolution as a seed it grows into its new stage of life.
As Paul tells the Corinthians, part of us is “subject to decay” and must die; not that this part is bad or useless, but after the flower fades, the seed developes, and then the seed, sown in the ground, must disintegrate. Our true self emerges in continuity with our former self, as a new plant grows out of the seed, yet surpassing the old in unimaginable ways. Weakness is sown, and strength rises up. Paul’s resurrection faith makes him the most optimistic of religion teachers.
Matthew’s explanation of the Sower parable gives further pointers about life. As the seed, God’s word, can fall on the footpaths and there be trampled down, so life’s mystery must not be subjected to every person’s advice and be easily subjected to anyone’s opinion. If the seed is scattered on rocky ground where it cannot take root but quickly dries up, we must allow God’s inspiration to sink its roots deeply into our lives and become a part of ourselves. Neither should the seed be dispersed amid briars, as it would be if we lose ourselves in a whirlwind pursuit of pleasure, and lose our taste for prayer, reflection and the self-denial which every mature person needs. Finally, the seed that falls on good ground and yields a plentiful harvest suggests how the grace of God must be thoroughly integrated into ourselves. The harvest depends on the quality of our lives over a long period of time.
First Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49
But some one will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being;” the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Gospel: Luke 8:4-15
When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.