“And he spoke to them in parables, saying: ‘A sower went out to sow’.”
In the parking lot of my condominium complex, there are maple keys all over the place. On the sidewalk, on the blacktop, on the cars. If you leave your car windows down, they’ll fly in and end up on the seats or the floor mats.
Maple keys are those strange little things that look like tiny wings. They’re actually the seeds of maple trees. One tree can release thousands of these tiny pods.
So, while I think they’re cool-looking, I’m also sort of sad, because by landing in my car, or on the blacktop, they’re never going to be maple trees. The seeds will just die. They’re not landing in fertile soil.
Jesus talks about a similar thing in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23). As the sower tosses the seeds out onto the ground, they fall in different places: along the path, where birds eat them; on rocky ground, where the seed spring up, but have no roots and die; in a patch of thorns, where they are choked off, and finally in fertile soil, where the grain is brought forth. Jesus explains to the disciples later that the seed is the word of God, and the various soils are representative of men. Sometimes the Word is choked out of us; sometimes we hear it and rejoice, but since we have no roots, we quickly lose it; sometimes it’s eaten by the birds of our lives. But sometimes it falls on the fertile ground and grows.
In Easter, we are in the fertile ground of the Church year. We are rejoicing in our salvation and in the resurrection of our Lord. It’s also springtime, and farmers are planting their crops. Maple trees release their maple keys in hope that a few of the thousand will fall into the fertile soil. Some of us are getting our gardens ready, so that when the risk of frost has passed, we can plant our seeds, which will become fragrant flowers, herbs, and vegetables that will nourish body and soul.
But gardeners and farmers don’t just toss their seeds out into their fields and yards, as the sower does in Jesus’ parable. They have to prepare the ground—till it, fertilize it, take care of it so that the seeds have the best chance to grow. And we have to do the same thing to our hearts: with prayer, confession, lectio divina, and the sacraments.
During Mass, the priest tells us to “lift up our hearts.” We can do that everyday through the sacred rhythm of our lives. Then, when the small seeds are tossed out, we have prepared a fertile place for them to grow and, in time, bear fruit.
In the springtime of the Church year, let us dedicate ourselves to preparing our lives for God’s seeds. In a few weeks, we will celebrate Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out onto the Apostles. Let’s use this Eastertide to prepare for that outpouring, that the Spirit might find fertile places in us to take root.