A Sower Went Out To Sow: Mark 4:1-12

On another occasion he began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them,  “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed 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 and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that ‘they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.'”

There are two sermons, if I’ve heard them once, I’ve heard them a thousand times; this happens to be one of them.

One of the things I’ve tried to do here, at a word on The Word, is not to just state the same ol’ same ol’. I like to delve into the things that most commentaries shy away from (well at least that’s the way I see it). But you know what I mean, right? You have a question about something in a text of Scripture, and every commentary you have doesn’t mention anything on it, or worse yet, they group the verse within the meaning of the text, without relating how it applies to the text. Has that ever happened to anyone else or am I just crazy ? (please, this is somewhat a rhetorical question, so let your Christian virtue shine through if you do answer).     🙂

So, what can be said of this text, that hasn’t been said before? Well, I don’t know if anyone has never brought this aspect of the passage up in their sermon or homily before, but God led me to a place this week, studying and praying on this, that I was not prepared to go. As a result; He has changed my heart, and renewed His Spirit within me, as He continues to conform me to the image of His Son. Thanks be to God.

Well, what can be said? After all, right after He tells the parable, He goes on to explain it to His followers and disciples who apparently didn’t get it, right? Have you ever wondered why  they didn’t get it ?

Before He explains the parable, and right after He tells the parable, He says: Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you.”

The most obvious answer as to why they didn’t get it, is to realize they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. I think, sometimes we forget that although these guys ate, drank, talked, walked and lived with Jesus for about three years, they were only experiencing Him from the outside. They had not been born of the Spirit, although they had been born of water (John 3:5). So these guys were kind of like everyone else. If not for the fact that Jesus had chosen these guys specifically, they would’ve been just like anyone else in the crowd.

Which leads me to my next question: So what’s our excuse ? We are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, as sons and daughters by virtue of our Baptism. Why don’t we get it? Why aren’t we more the rich soil than the rocky ground or the path itself?

To us has been given, two thousand years of interpretation and application, and at times we still don’t get it; at least I know I don’t! So why…..why don’t I get it?

Maybe I don’t get it  all, because He doesn’t have all  of me!

Let’s look again at who the message has been entrusted; His disciples, more directly the twelve He appointed. These men left their wife and families, their occupations and livelihoods – they gave up everything, to be able to hear, understand and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the coming Kingdom of God. And me? I can’t even give Him my whole, entire heart. So maybe I don’t get it,  because He ain’t got it  (all my heart).

“Lord I do these studies on this blog for You and Your people. I lector and play music for You and Your people at Mass. I teach CCD and I am a Eucharistic minister for You and Your people.”

“That’s great stuff Tim, I’ve called you to do these things for Me and My people. I want you to do all you can for Me. But most of all, I want you – all of you. I want your heart – all of your heart. You’ve followed me long enough half-heartedly; I want you to follow Me now, whole-heartedly.”

So this week, let us change the type of soil our heart is now. Let’s break up the hardened soil, like that on the path, hardened and smoothed over from the traffic of our lives; to the soft, rich soilin a field ready for harvest.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:


Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough; deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.” For those who stay “outside,” everything remains enigmatic.


May the Lord God be with you this week. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.



8 Responses

  1. Tim,

    Interesting take on the parable. I like your “out of the box” thinking.

    The only thing I’m wondering about is your use of the other soils to explain the heart of a believer. A believer with the Holy Spirit cannot help but be fruitful. As Jesus said in John 15, “if you abide in me, you will bear much fruit.”

    The other soils (path, rocky soil, weed-choked soil) are unfruitful and representative of ultimate rejection of the word.

    Perhaps it would be better for your thesis to relate the levels of fruitfulness (30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold) to the level of “connectedness” to Christ.

    Food for thought!

  2. Carl,
    I certainly agree that a true believer will bear fruit. And I know that this text of scripture has been used as an evangelistic message. My point here, and throughout the reflections here, is personal, spiritual growth for believers.

    As a believer, I can be subject to the hardness of heart. Maybe like King David, in his adultery and murder, Samson, in his pride.

    This is what I meant by the “all of my heart” statements in this reflection. Is there any part of my heart that I’d not given to God? In my case there was, and as He revealed it to me, I had a choice to make; obey or not to obey…..that is the question.

    I’m sorry if that was not explained well. I’ll double-check my double-check. 🙂


  3. It seems to me that one can draw from this that there is a sense of “once rich soil, always rich soil”, but as any gardener and farmer knows, soil has to be reworked often.
    Conditions of the soil can change due to various environmental factors. A believer can “fall away” due to external influences.
    Just as a gardener or farmer must cooperate with nature, the believer must cooperate with God.
    Does that make sense?

  4. Perfect sense, tjoseph!

    You said it better than I did!


  5. Do you have any suggestions of things one might consider doing to “change the type of soil our heart is now,” to help us grow in following the Lord more wholeheartedly?

  6. I would suggest:

    1.) Lectio Divina from Scripture every day
    2.) a regular Fast day every week
    3.) Mass every day, or as often as possible

    Does anyone else have suggestions?

  7. i dont get this ok
    what does packed soil, stony ground, thorny ground, good soil refer to humans
    can someone please tell me i have it 4 my homework

  8. Shawna, I’m sorry that you didn’t get this.

    As stated above, the soil refers to our hearts; our receptivity to God. And what we allow God to do within our lives.

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