The beautiful parable in today's Gospel (Matthew 13: 1-23) speaks about different types of soil The sower scatters the seed on the path, rocky ground, shallow soil, among thorns and also in rich soil. It seems rather crazy to waste the seed, but farming methods are quite different today. Farmers now realize that it is best to first prepare the soil, then plant the seeds. In the time of Jesus they would scatter seed then till the soil and turn it so that the seed would grow. Preparation is now just as important as the planting or "sowing" of the seed.
If the emphasis has changed in farming, so too we have to look at a different emphasis in the parable. My meditation has led me to consider our role in preparing the "soil" of hearts to receive the Word of God . I see our role as believers in helping to make sure that others are prepared to receive God's Word in their lives. Many of us were prepared for this by our parents, who spoke to us of God and showed us how to follow the example of Christ. By words and actions, we were prepared to receive the Word in a mature way, and allow it to yield the "thirty, sixty and one hundred fold" that the Lord mentioned.
Now it is our turn, not only for children but also for other adults who may not realize that God loves them and is with them. Very small but important steps we take can help them become more open to considering God in their lives. Every time we offer to pray for them when they have a difficult situation, we are preparing the soil. When we tell them of the blessings we have received from God, we are preparing the soil. When we point out how God has blessed them and offer to say a prayer in thanksgiving for something good that happened to them, we are preparing the soil. Each of these small things can help gradually open others up to seeing God's impact in their lives. They also help keep us aware of that Presence as well.
No farmer today simply scatters seed on ground that is not prepared. No one who want to help spread the Good News can simply begin preaching without preparing hearts to receive the Word. I hope that we can take some time and consider how our words and actions just might be the way that God want to prepare friends, co-workers, neighbors, classmates or even strangers, so that they will be open to receiving His Word into their hearts at the right moment.