Commentary on the Gospel of
“Don’t you understand this parable?”
Speaking to country people like himself, Jesus often employed stories and images drawn from nature. Surely among his audience there were many who knew from first-hand the work of sowing seeds. They would know that it was a careless farmer who cast his precious seeds on rocky ground, or among thorns, or along a path. By this standard Jesus is a profligate farmer indeed—proclaiming his message to all, to the sinner as well as the righteous.
What determines our capacity to receive this message? According to Jesus the obstacle is not necessarily a matter of “sin” but lack of “depth”—the lack of a capacity for inwardness. We live on the surface of life, preoccupied by daily cares, or fantasies of success, or concerns about the future, and so fail to live in the actual moment in which we are living. Thus, when the message of Good News comes to us we are incapable of receiving it. Soil cannot literally prepare itself for the seed. But we have power over ourselves: to rein in our capacity for distraction, to safeguard space for silence, to be attentive—and so to be ready to respond when the Word of God encounters us.