The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
 "Since they had no root they withered away"

Scripture: Matthew 13:1-9

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  9 He who has ears, let him hear."
Meditation:  Are you hungry for God's word? Matthew tells us that Jesus taught many things to those who came to listen and learn.  Jesus' teaching method was a very simple one.  He used parables short stories and images taken from everyday life to convey hidden truths about the kingdom of God. Like a skillful artist, Jesus painted evocative pictures with short and simple words. A good image can speak more loudly and clearly than many words. Jesus used the ordinary everyday to point to another order of reality hidden, yet visible to those who had "eyes to see" and "ears to hear". Jesus communicated with pictures and stories, vivid illustrations which captured the imaginations of his audience more powerfully than an abstract presentation could. His parables are like buried treasure waiting to be discovered (Matt. 13:44).

 What does the parable about seeds and roots say to us about the kingdom of God? Any farmer will attest to the importance of good soil for supplying nutrients for growth.  And how does a plant get the necessary food and water it needs except by its roots?  The scriptures frequently use the image of fruit-bearing plants or trees to convey the principle of spiritual life and death. "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:7-8; see also Psalm 1:3).

Jesus' parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God's word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly.  There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to what he or she doesn't want to hear. Then there is the shallow hearer. He or she fails to think things out or think them through; they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional reaction; but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else.  Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important.  Such a person is for ever too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate on God's word.  He or she may work so hard that they are too tired to even think of anything else but their work.  Then there is the one whose mind is open.  Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it. Do you hunger for God's word?

"Lord, faith in your word is the way to wisdom, and to ponder your divine plan is to grow in the truth.  Open my eyes to your deeds, and my ears to the sound of your call, that I may understand your will for my life and live according to it".


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(c) 2002-2006 Don Schwager