Never to be Seen

Are you a gardener?  Did you ever plant a seed? Did you ever wonder about the “Seen Parable” (Lk 8: 4-15) and try to figure out which one you were and become depressed because you thought that the description which really fit you was the “rocky ground” person?  Maybe that’s the wrong approach? The parable gives several scenarios about how the seed of the Word gets planted in the world.  Some are good scenarios and others not so much.

The parable describes what happens when the Living Word of God is released into the world and the obstacles that occur to block it from growing.  The obstacles are, of course, what people do with the Word once they have heard it.  Remember, though, that the parable is set in the context of seed and ground.   As usual, this parable of Jesus has many unspoken implications.  It is interesting that he chooses this agricultural context to make his point.  People would have been listening to him who were very familiar with the miracle of putting a tiny seed into the dirt, never to be seen again.
Take a closer look at seeds.  As a science teacher I never ceased to be astounded at the power of a seed and what it could accomplish.   Did you ever plant a seed upside down?  Probably and you never realized it.  All seeds are “survivors” and miraculously “directional”.  They have amazing abilities to grow the stems up and the roots down no matter how they land.  That used to be one of my favorite experiments with the kids!
Many of the seeds that create the most beautiful flowers and most delectable fruit are even smaller than an acorn.  You know, that tiny acorn, great oak thing.  Did you ever spot those veeeery little black flecks in a banana while enjoying that fruit?  THOSE are the seeds.  Banana trees average around fifty feet and live for decades.  Did you ever plant carrots?  Don’t sneeze, the microscopic brown dots in the palm your hand will all be lost if you do.   What about a cocoanut with a husk so tough that it can ride the ocean waves for years and turn into an abundantly fruiting tree when it lands on a spot that is just right?  How about the seeds of a Bristle Cone Pine that will lie dormant for decades and never produce a new plant until they are totally scorched by fire and the cone opens?  Bristle Cone is one of the few plants that will re-establish an area devastated by wildfire.  In ten years you will never know a fire was there.   A mustard seed is about the size of a letter “o” on this page and the shrub it produces will be in excess of ten feet tall. Finally, there is that whole issue of dying and rising.  A seed will not produce a new plant until it dies to self.  Once planted, it will never be a seed again, but from the grain that dies an entire new plant rises up.
So when we think about seeds and their relationship to thus parable, maybe there are a few things that we could add to our considerations.  Obviously the parable profiles some people who simply were unconscious about the treasure that they received when the Word was preached to them.  But what about the believers who fall into a category that was not included in the parable?  I’m thinking of the person pursuing a walk of faith who is not on such rocky ground, or so surrounded with thorns as to be completely unreceptive to the word.  You know; someone like you or I who are struggling with some good days and some bad days in our faith life.  We are Prayerful people who sometimes don’t have it completely together. We are not always able to accomplish great spirituality because life interrupts. We know the value of the Word but just don’t have what it takes to be the “fertile ground” 100% of the time.   What about us?
The idea of the seed in this parable is, of course, the word that is spread.  Jesus is generous in spreading his “Word” everywhere and without prejudice.  Pair that with the idea that seeds are tough and will often survive even if they do not sprout immediately.  The seed always contains potential and sometimes it takes adversity to realize the potential.
The first thing we should remember is not to judge ourselves.  The next thing we should heed is the bible’s lesson that the Word is “living and active” (Heb 4). That is a powerful statement that carries with it, several implications.  Wherever it lands, the Word is never defeated or wasted.  It may only reside in someone for a short time, but leaves its mark:
“it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely; it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts.”  (Heb 4:12-13 Jer. Bible).
Even in a non-believer or a blasphemer the Word leaves an imprint which marks the soul.  That’s because the Word is the Word and has a life of its own.
In a believer though, the potential of the word becomes magnified in amazing ways. It does not matter if the believer is new in the faith or someone who has accomplished great spiritual maturity.  Did you ever notice that each time you hear the same Gospel you notice something that you never thought of before or see a detail that you  never heard?   What you learn from the word depends on where you are.  As you progress in your spiritual life more things are revealed to you in the same text.  The Word is a school that can last a lifetime, literally.   Next, like a seed, the word that is invested in us is a planting in our soul.  It is God’s investment which we carry into the future.  The Word will school us, comfort us, steel us, console us and mature us.  If we are lucky the Word will blossom and produce fruit that is a hundred-fold in blessings, good deeds, teaching to other people, witness, prayer and salvation.   God loves to see interest accrue on his investment.
So take this parable with the degree of seriousness that it merits, but do not drift into discouragement because of it.  That is a tactic of spiritual warfare.  If the Word causes you any kind of despair, that is quite simply a lie which is being perpetrated upon you.  Rather, take any wisdom from this parable that is revealed to you and use it to teach and guide your developing spirituality.  Always regard the Word with the respect and attention due and never take it for granted whether you are reading it or hearing it.  Finally, always be willing to allow the Word to grow in you however the Lord desires.  Never be shy about bringing its fruit to any person or occasion that gives you opportunity.  Being the fertile ground takes time and you have to be willing to put up with some cultivation.  That’s not always a process that is easy or pleasant but make no mistake; the ripened fruit is very, very sweet.
Are you a gardener?  Did you ever plant a seed? Did you ever wonder about the “Seen Parable” (Lk 8: 4-15) and try to figure out which one you were and become depressed because you thought that the description which really fit you was the “rocky ground” person?  Maybe that’s the wrong approach? The parable gives several scenarios about how the seed of the Word gets planted in the world.  Some are good scenarios and others not so much.
The parable describes what happens when the Living Word of God is released into the world and the obstacles that occur to block it from growing.  The obstacles are, of course, what people do with the Word once they have heard it.  Remember, though, that the parable is set in the context of seed and ground.   As usual, this parable of Jesus has many unspoken implications.  It is interesting that he chooses this agricultural context to make his point.  People would have been listening to him who were very familiar with the miracle of putting a tiny seed into the dirt, never to be seen again.
Take a closer look at seeds.  As a science teacher I never ceased to be astounded at the power of a seed and what it could accomplish.   Did you ever plant a seed upside down?  Probably and you never realized it.  All seeds are “survivors” and miraculously “directional”.  They have amazing abilities to grow the stems up and the roots down no matter how they land.  That used to be one of my favorite experiments with the kids!
Many of the seeds that create the most beautiful flowers and most delectable fruit are even smaller than an acorn.  You know, that tiny acorn, great oak thing.  Did you ever spot those veeeery little black flecks in a banana while enjoying that fruit?  THOSE are the seeds.  Banana trees average around fifty feet and live for decades.  Did you ever plant carrots?  Don’t sneeze, the microscopic brown dots in the palm your hand will all be lost if you do.   What about a cocoanut with a husk so tough that it can ride the ocean waves for years and turn into an abundantly fruiting tree when it lands on a spot that is just right?  How about the seeds of a Bristle Cone Pine that will lie dormant for decades and never produce a new plant until they are totally scorched by fire and the cone opens?  Bristle Cone is one of the few plants that will re-establish an area devastated by wildfire.  In ten years you will never know a fire was there.   A mustard seed is about the size of a letter “o” on this page and the shrub it produces will be in excess of ten feet tall. Finally, there is that whole issue of dying and rising.  A seed will not produce a new plant until it dies to self.  Once planted, it will never be a seed again, but from the grain that dies an entire new plant rises up.
So when we think about seeds and their relationship to thus parable, maybe there are a few things that we could add to our considerations.  Obviously the parable profiles some people who simply were unconscious about the treasure that they received when the Word was preached to them.  But what about the believers who fall into a category that was not included in the parable?  I’m thinking of the person pursuing a walk of faith who is not on such rocky ground, or so surrounded with thorns as to be completely unreceptive to the word.  You know; someone like you or I who are struggling with some good days and some bad days in our faith life.  We are Prayerful people who sometimes don’t have it completely together. We are not always able to accomplish great spirituality because life interrupts. We know the value of the Word but just don’t have what it takes to be the “fertile ground” 100% of the time.   What about us?
The idea of the seed in this parable is, of course, the word that is spread.  Jesus is generous in spreading his “Word” everywhere and without prejudice.  Pair that with the idea that seeds are tough and will often survive even if they do not sprout immediately.  The seed always contains potential and sometimes it takes adversity to realize the potential.
The first thing we should remember is not to judge ourselves.  The next thing we should heed is the bible’s lesson that the Word is “living and active” (Heb 4). That is a powerful statement that carries with it, several implications.  Wherever it lands, the Word is never defeated or wasted.  It may only reside in someone for a short time, but leaves its mark:

“it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely; it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts.”  (Heb 4:12-13 Jer. Bible).

Even in a non-believer or a blasphemer the Word leaves an imprint which marks the soul.  That’s because the Word is the Word and has a life of its own.
In a believer though, the potential of the word becomes magnified in amazing ways. It does not matter if the believer is new in the faith or someone who has accomplished great spiritual maturity.  Did you ever notice that each time you hear the same Gospel you notice something that you never thought of before or see a detail that you  never heard?   What you learn from the word depends on where you are.  As you progress in your spiritual life more things are revealed to you in the same text.  The Word is a school that can last a lifetime, literally.   Next, like a seed, the word that is invested in us is a planting in our soul.  It is God’s investment which we carry into the future.  The Word will school us, comfort us, steel us, console us and mature us.  If we are lucky the Word will blossom and produce fruit that is a hundred-fold in blessings, good deeds, teaching to other people, witness, prayer and salvation.   God loves to see interest accrue on his investment.
So take this parable with the degree of seriousness that it merits, but do not drift into discouragement because of it.  That is a tactic of spiritual warfare.  If the Word causes you any kind of despair, that is quite simply a lie which is being perpetrated upon you.  Rather, take any wisdom from this parable that is revealed to you and use it to teach and guide your developing spirituality.  Always regard the Word with the respect and attention due and never take it for granted whether you are reading it or hearing it.  Finally, always be willing to allow the Word to grow in you however the Lord desires.  Never be shy about bringing its fruit to any person or occasion that gives you opportunity.  Being the fertile ground takes time and you have to be willing to put up with some cultivation.  That’s not always a process that is easy or pleasant but make no mistake; the ripened fruit is very, very sweet.
Are you a gardener?  Did you ever plant a seed? Did you ever wonder about the “Seen Parable” (Lk 8: 4-15) and try to figure out which one you were and become depressed because you thought that the description which really fit you was the “rocky ground” person?  Maybe that’s the wrong approach? The parable gives several scenarios about how the seed of the Word gets planted in the world.  Some are good scenarios and others not so much.
The parable describes what happens when the Living Word of God is released into the world and the obstacles that occur to block it from growing.  The obstacles are, of course, what people do with the Word once they have heard it.  Remember, though, that the parable is set in the context of seed and ground.   As usual, this parable of Jesus has many unspoken implications.  It is interesting that he chooses this agricultural context to make his point.  People would have been listening to him who were very familiar with the miracle of putting a tiny seed into the dirt, never to be seen again.
Take a closer look at seeds.  As a science teacher I never ceased to be astounded at the power of a seed and what it could accomplish.   Did you ever plant a seed upside down?  Probably and you never realized it.  All seeds are “survivors” and miraculously “directional”.  They have amazing abilities to grow the stems up and the roots down no matter how they land.  That used to be one of my favorite experiments with the kids!
Many of the seeds that create the most beautiful flowers and most delectable fruit are even smaller than an acorn.  You know, that tiny acorn, great oak thing.  Did you ever spot those veeeery little black flecks in a banana while enjoying that fruit?  THOSE are the seeds.  Banana trees average around fifty feet and live for decades.  Did you ever plant carrots?  Don’t sneeze, the microscopic brown dots in the palm your hand will all be lost if you do.   What about a cocoanut with a husk so tough that it can ride the ocean waves for years and turn into an abundantly fruiting tree when it lands on a spot that is just right?  How about the seeds of a Bristle Cone Pine that will lie dormant for decades and never produce a new plant until they are totally scorched by fire and the cone opens?  Bristle Cone is one of the few plants that will re-establish an area devastated by wildfire.  In ten years you will never know a fire was there.   A mustard seed is about the size of a letter “o” on this page and the shrub it produces will be in excess of ten feet tall. Finally, there is that whole issue of dying and rising.  A seed will not produce a new plant until it dies to self.  Once planted, it will never be a seed again, but from the grain that dies an entire new plant rises up.
So when we think about seeds and their relationship to thus parable, maybe there are a few things that we could add to our considerations.  Obviously the parable profiles some people who simply were unconscious about the treasure that they received when the Word was preached to them.  But what about the believers who fall into a category that was not included in the parable?  I’m thinking of the person pursuing a walk of faith who is not on such rocky ground, or so surrounded with thorns as to be completely unreceptive to the word.  You know; someone like you or I who are struggling with some good days and some bad days in our faith life.  We are Prayerful people who sometimes don’t have it completely together. We are not always able to accomplish great spirituality because life interrupts. We know the value of the Word but just don’t have what it takes to be the “fertile ground” 100% of the time.   What about us?
The idea of the seed in this parable is, of course, the word that is spread.  Jesus is generous in spreading his “Word” everywhere and without prejudice.  Pair that with the idea that seeds are tough and will often survive even if they do not sprout immediately.  The seed always contains potential and sometimes it takes adversity to realize the potential.
The first thing we should remember is not to judge ourselves.  The next thing we should heed is the bible’s lesson that the Word is “living and active” (Heb 4). That is a powerful statement that carries with it, several implications.  Wherever it lands, the Word is never defeated or wasted.  It may only reside in someone for a short time, but leaves its mark:
“it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely; it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts.”  (Heb 4:12-13 Jer. Bible).
Even in a non-believer or a blasphemer the Word leaves an imprint which marks the soul.  That’s because the Word is the Word and has a life of its own.
In a believer though, the potential of the word becomes magnified in amazing ways. It does not matter if the believer is new in the faith or someone who has accomplished great spiritual maturity.  Did you ever notice that each time you hear the same Gospel you notice something that you never thought of before or see a detail that you  never heard?   What you learn from the word depends on where you are.  As you progress in your spiritual life more things are revealed to you in the same text.  The Word is a school that can last a lifetime, literally.   Next, like a seed, the word that is invested in us is a planting in our soul.  It is God’s investment which we carry into the future.  The Word will school us, comfort us, steel us, console us and mature us.  If we are lucky the Word will blossom and produce fruit that is a hundred-fold in blessings, good deeds, teaching to other people, witness, prayer and salvation.   God loves to see interest accrue on his investment.
So take this parable with the degree of seriousness that it merits, but do not drift into discouragement because of it.  That is a tactic of spiritual warfare.  If the Word causes you any kind of despair, that is quite simply a lie which is being perpetrated upon you.  Rather, take any wisdom from this parable that is revealed to you and use it to teach and guide your developing spirituality.  Always regard the Word with the respect and attention due and never take it for granted whether you are reading it or hearing it.  Finally, always be willing to allow the Word to grow in you however the Lord desires.  Never be shy about bringing its fruit to any person or occasion that gives you opportunity.  Being the fertile ground takes time and you have to be willing to put up with some cultivation.  That’s not always a process that is easy or pleasant but make no mistake, the  ripened fruit is very, very sweet.

Copyright© 2017, Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn holds a Master’s in Education from Saint Xavier University. Most recently she completed Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from The Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. This recent degree was part of a “retirement project” after teaching for 35 years. She has also worked as a spiritual director, music minister,council member and prayer team warrior. Kathryn has a deep interest in catechesis for the people in the pews. As a “sort of” convert she finds the wisdom of the Church a source for encouragement, joy and survival in a world not sure of anything. Her writing has appeared in diocesan publications and on-line sites, most recently for Zenit. To learn more about Kathryn check out her thinking at: www.atravelersview.org">ATravelersView.org.

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