On the Parable of the Sower
Pope Francis’ Angelus Address for Sunday, July 13th
VATICAN CITY, July 13, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Here below is an English translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus address, delivered at midday to faithful and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square from the window of the study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This Sunday’s Gospel (Mt 13:1-23) shows us Jesus’ sermon on the shore of Lake Galilee and, because a large crowd around him, he gets on a boat, moving away a little from the shore and preaches from there. When he speaks to the people, Jesus uses many parables: a language comprehensible to everyone, with images drawn from nature and everyday life situations.
The first is an introduction to all the parables: that of the sower who casts his seed freely on all types of terrain. And the protagonist of this parable is really the seed, which produces fruit, more or less, depending on the land on which it falls. The first three terrains are unproductive: on the path, the seeds are eaten by birds; on the rocky ground, the buds dry quickly because they have no roots; among bushes, the seeds are choked by thorns. The fourth ground is good ground: only there, the seed takes root and bears fruit.
In this case, Jesus doesn’t limit himself to just presenting the parable; he also explains it to his disciples. The seed that fell on the path signifies those who hear the proclamation of the Kingdom of God but do not receive him, so the Evil One comes and takes it away. Evil, in fact, does not want the seed of the Gospel to sprout in the hearts of men. This is the first comparison.
The second is the seed that fell on stony ground: this represents the people who hear the word of God, and receive it immediately, but superficially, because they have no roots and are inconsistent; and when trials and tribulations arrive, these people lose heart immediately.
The third case is that of the seed that fell among thorns. Jesus explains that it refers to those who hear the word but, because of worldly concerns and the seduction of wealth, remains stifled.
Finally, the seed that fell on fertile soil represents those who hear the word, welcome it, safeguard it, and understand it – and it bears fruit. The perfect model of this good ground is the Virgin Mary.
This parable speaks to each of us today, as it spoke to the listeners of Jesus two thousand years ago. It reminds us that we are the land where the Lord tirelessly throws the seed of His Word and His love. What is our disposition when we receive it? How is our heart? What does the ground look like: a path, a stone, a thorn bush?
It’s up to us to become good soil without thorns or stones, but tilled and cultivated with care, so that it can bring forth good fruit for us and for our brothers. At every Mass, the good seed of the Gospel is sown in us ever anew, by means of the table of the Word of God: a seed to be accepted, to safeguard, to live. Even in these summer months, during the holiday period, it is important to participate every Sunday at this table, to draw light and strength for our journey.