“This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Matthew 13:23

Friday, 23 July 2021

Matthew 13:18-23

In today’s reading, Matthew explains the parable of the sower, which we saw on Wednesday. In his gospel, it is separated from the parable by a discourse on the purpose of the parables. Jesus explains why he teaches in parables, “they look, and do not see, and they listen, but do not hear or understand.” (Matt 13:14) It is aligned with a frequent expression in the gospel about the things of heaven being hidden from the wise and the clever, and being released to mere children.  

Jesus, unusually, takes each part of the parable and explains it in detail, something he doesn’t often do. You can almost hear him thinking: “Ah, they’re not gonna get this one!” So, those who hear the word of God but don’t understand it are like the seeds that fell along the path, where the birds came and ate it up. The birds are the evil one who snatches them away. The seed that fell on rocky ground is like those who hear the word of God and rejoice, but they do not last because they have no root. The seed that fell among thorns is like those who hear the word of God, but the worries of this life and the lure of riches choke them and they don’t bear fruit. And the seed sown in good soil stands for those who hear the message and understand it; they bear fruit some a hundredfold, some sixty and others thirty.

Now that I know the meaning of the parable, my questions can go deeper. What kind of believer am I? Am I the believer who believes quickly but then Satan comes and snatches away my conviction? Am I like the believers who have no root, like those on rocky ground? Am I the believer who believes but then gets choked with the cares of this world and the attraction of riches? Or am I the believer like the seed which falls into fertile soil, which yields a thirty-fold, a sixty-fold, or a hundredfold?

Lord God,

We pray for each other and ourselves that we may learn what it is to be the fertile soil where the Word of God can fall and grow. We pray for the grace to be open and responsive to the Word of God, so our lives may be fruitful and yield a rich harvest.


Tim Smith

Tim Smith is Regional Director for the Jesuit Refugee Service in Southern Africa, which covers Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe. He lives in Cape Town with his wife Shona and son Patrick.

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