On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Mt 13:1-9)
By the Sea
Reading the Scriptures, meditating them, or just simply diving into lectio divina never stops surprising us. As I got ready to prepare this brief reflection, the first line of the gospel passage captured me with its vivid image: ‘Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea’. Whoever has visited the blue Sea of Galilee will connect immediately with this thought. The recollection of the beauty of the area so familiar to our Lord, makes his “presence” throughout the gospel narrative even more tangible.
What entertained his mind as He sat by the sea? Was he rehearsing the parable of the seed, or caressing his people in his thoughts, those who were hungry for his word, for natural bread, and for the Bread of Heaven? He spoke to them at length in parables, as a good teacher who does not spare time, effort, and above all, love, to make sure those entrusted to him learn well the message of salvation and cherish it in their hearts.
Bearing Abundant Fruit
The Eternal Word had already left another house, his Father’s, when he became incarnate, when He himself was the “seed” fell on the rich soil of Mary’s heart, and then of her womb so as to become our Savior, the Teacher we see and hear on this parable. Good teachers do teach through example, through their own credible testimony —because they practice what they teach—, and that is how they bear abundant fruit. Perhaps we can read today’s parable against the backcloth of John 15: 1-5 passage, where Jesus makes implicitly explicit the meaning of the parable of the seed, which he had explained in detail to his disciples in verses 19-23 of Matthew 13:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.”
The point I recommend for reflection from these beautiful texts, is that of remaining in Christ through his grace, that is, his divine life running through our veins. May the eternal sower who planted the seed of his divine life in us through baptism, make it grow abundantly within our hearts so that we can bear fruit of eternal life.
God bless you all.