Engraving by Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896),
Wood engraving on paper,
Part of Illustrations to "˜The Parables of Our Lord', engraved by the Dalziel Brothers
© Tate Gallery, London
A sower went out to sow
Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.
He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’
Reflection on the wood engraving on paper
The parable of the Sower is probably one of the parables most familiar to us. That is also its problem. We think we know the parable, and hence tend to merely glance over it each time we read or hear this Gospel reading.
When Jesus saw the farmer going out to sow seeds, it reminded him of the way God was at work in his ministry. Jesus noticed that the farmer scattered the seed with abandon, almost recklessly, not knowing what kind of soil it would fall on. Jesus the goes on to describe four different kinds of soil: edge of path soil; patches of rock; soil with thorns; and good soil. These four soils Jesus is describing are not just physical, agricultural soils, but they are the very inner soils of our human hearts. They are the various landscapes of our human souls.
The truth is that we are probably not just one type of soil. We are a combination of all four. For certain teachings Jesus gives us, we do let His word fall onto the rich soil in our hearts, as we sort of agree with what Jesus is saying. For other teachings we actually would be more like ‘nah, well this is ‘edge of the path stuff’, as we feel they don't apply to us. We don't let those teachings fully take root. Then for other things such as maybe some of the teachings of the Church we would be more like rock and not agree with what is being said, and simply let the seeds of those teachings fall on rock.
So depending on his teachings and what Jesus is telling us, we decide consciously or unconsciously to let the seed of the word fall on hard rock or soft soil. Why? Because we can't to be in control... and not God. We want to be in the driving seat
In the wood engraving on paper we are looking at today, we see all soils: the rocks, the thorns, the birds picking away at the seeds… and then the good soil in the top right section where the sower is abundantly and resolutely sowing the seeds. God as the divine Sower wants his seed to fall on good, rich, nurtured soil. No soil, no field, no person is left unsown. No ground is declared undeserving of the Sower's seeds.
Share this Gospel Reading
Did you like this Gospel reading and art reflection?
Join in the discussion about this artwork & Gospel reading
Readings related to Matthew 13:1-9
Join our community
In addition to receiving our Daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection, signing up for a free membership allows you to: