To set this up, Jesus has just had the scene with "a woman" who is "a sinner" at the house of Simon, the Pharisee. And she's shown more courtesy and love for Jesus than his host... so Jesus makes a point of highlighting her, forgiving her of her sins, and sending her off in peace. Next, we have Jesus on the move, doing more teaching in villages and cities. Along with the twelve disciples, he has also collected a following of women: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna... "and many others". People are hearing about this Jesus, and a great crowd gathers to hear him speak. And so he tells this parable:
A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path
and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock;
and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and
the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it
grew, it produced a hundredfold.’ As he said this, he called out, ‘Let anyone
with ears to hear listen!’Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I
speak in parables, so that“looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.” ‘Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on
the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word
from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the
rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have
no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As
for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on
their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and
their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the
ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and
bear fruit with patient endurance.--Luke 8: 5-15
I usually pause after reading the Gospel. Today, I sat very, very still. Because it hit me: I've experienced being each one of these types of soil in my life.
My youth was spent in church... physically. I did listen. I did participate. But I was battling demons while I was there. I don't mean to suggest that I was battling a real Devil character, but I had a strong pull toward death... and I believed that God had no use for me and had dumped me out on the roadside. These were the days of the seed getting trampled on the path. When things came to a head, and I was put on anti-depressants and in therapy, I moved along to phase two of the soil: the rock. Yes, now I believed that God didn't hate me. But I wasn't so convinced that the People of God didn't hate me because what I heard and witnessed several times was seeing the branches of the vine growing out of the windows of the church. And it wasn't the branches of a grapvine, it was poison ivy. I didn't want to hear the Word because the Word was being corrupted and used to beat up gay people. This phase led to the life in the thorns, trying to find meaning and satisfaction not necessarily in riches, but in "stuff" and in anything but the church because that wasn't a safe place any more.
But the undaunted gardener... aka God... has cleared the thorns, broken up the rocks, and sodded the path. And God has built up a fence around the garden to keep the scavengers out. I feel that now, more than ever before, I can not turn a deaf ear to what God intends for me to hear: "You are wanted. You are needed. You are mine."
As the Pagans say, "So mote it be!"