Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Gospel and Confetti - Enough for Everyone

When I was in high school I played in the marching band and besides Friday night football games, we would travel to parades and competitions throughout Colorado. It took a lot of practice and a great deal of time commitment to be in the band, but it was worth the fun and the experience. One experience that I hope I never forget was a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida for the Citrus Bowl. We marched in two parades that week; the Citrus Bowl Parade and the Walt Disney World Christmas Parade. Both events were huge spectacular events that used confetti and, if you have ever been to an event with confetti you know what I’m talking about when I say, it seemed to rain confetti for hours. It was everywhere, on the streets, in the grass, on the trees. It even seemed like it was in our ears. Whether we wanted it or not, the confetti came raining down upon our heads. What a thrill!

This image of confetti dropping from the sky and covering everything around is just the image of the parable of the sower in this morning’s Gospel. Christ says, “A sower when out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, some fell on rock, some fell among thorns, and some fell on good ground.” (Luke 8.5-8) The Gospel doesn’t say that the sower carefully placed each seed into a perfectly prepared hole, but rather the sower casts his seed as if it were confetti. The sower just throws it out there without caring where it lands….or so it seems.

Thankfully Christ gives us the explanation of this parable. Christ begins, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God,” (Luke 8.11) or Christ. Since only God can send His Son, the sower can only be God and He does nothing without a purpose or plan. Who or what then is the ground? According to St. John Chrysostom the ground is our souls. (see Homily 44 on Matthew) Maybe we need to look deeper at this parable to fully understand what God’s plan is for us.

So please allow me to retell the parable using new images, and let’s see if this helps us understand what God’s plan is. God sends His Son out into the world. Some of us are hardened like the path and don’t recognize Christ. Some of us, like the rock, have nothing to feed our faith and so we quickly lose our faith in Christ. Some of us, like the thorns, embrace Christ but have a hard time staying focused because we are surrounded by distractions and temptations and our faith doesn’t last during hard times. Some of us, like the good fertile ground, hear the Gospel, embrace Christ and bear fruit and we are transfigured into new life. Ultimately though, like the earth, we are all of these at some time in our lives.

At some time in history, we know that the Appalachian Mountains used to be much larger, like the Rocky Mountains out west. Over time, because of erosion, the mountains became rocks and rocks became dirt and dirt became rich fertile soil that many of our local farms depend upon so that when they sow seeds, a good plentiful harvest follows. Over time, through ascesis such as prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we are broken down from being not able to recognize Christ to embracing Him and living transfigured lives.

The greatest part of the parable isn’t just that God sent His Son to us on Earth. That is the Good News, but the great news is that God send His Son everywhere no matter who is there. No matter if we are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, employed or unemployed, hardened like the path or good rich fertile soil; God send His Son – the Word of God – to us and each of us has the ability to accept Him even if we are the hardened path.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we must never forget that the hardened rocks of the Appalachian Mountains, with time and work, became the rich farming soils of our area farms and our lives can also become fertile for the Word of God. I remember seeing a tree growing right in the middle of a boulder once in Colorado. There was no soil for the roots, but some seed landed in some crack and grew. During the winds of winter that small little plant was able to hold onto that boulder. The next spring it grew a little larger and the roots a little stronger and eventually the roots found their way deep into the rock and took hold. When I saw it, what was once a small little plant, was now a large pine tree and what was once a great boulder, had become a few large stones around the trunk. If that seed had never drifted onto the boulder, there would be no tree today.

The same holds true for us. If God had not sent His Son to us, we would not be here today. A farmer would never sow seeds where there was no hope for a harvest and neither would God. As Chrysostom says, “For if had it been impossible, this Sower would not have sown.” (Homily 44 on Matthew) Have hope my dear brothers and sisters in Christ because God has sent His Son so that we can live forever and He sent His son to all of us no matter who we are that, “whoever believes in Him may not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3.16) Even if we are more like the hardened rock than fertile soil, in time we are all able, just like that pine tree in Colorado to take hold of the Word of God and let it grow in us.

Very few things on Earth are as spectacular as Disney World or a College Football Bowl Game, but when I remember all the confetti, all the shouting with joy, all the excitement of that week when I was in high school, it gives me hope. It gives us hope that God sends blessings upon each of us no matter who we are; and no matter who we are God will sow His seed in each of us and that seed, like the pine tree in Colorado, will break through our difficulties so God can dwell within us.

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