Wednesday, 3rd Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s gospel is commonly called the Parable of the Sower. But we can also call it the Parable of the Prodigal Sower. The first thing we are meant to notice in today’s parable is the peculiar, prodigal way by which the Sower sows. The Sower spreads his seeds far and wide: on the path, on rocky ground, among thorns, and rich soil. He scatters his seeds with reckless abandon; he sows indiscriminately and liberally; he plants extravagantly and wastefully. That is the Sower’s prodigal way.
Keep that image of the Sower in mind… and let it touch you, inspire you, and move you. An important ingredient of this image concerns grace. The parable is about God dispensing his blessings. The Sower is an image of God dispensing his grace – in a reckless, extravagant, prodigal way.
What is grace? Grace is love freely given… love offered without expectation of return. We live in a society that says, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” That is why it is hard for many people, even Christians, to fully understand “grace as a free gift.” We are told that we cannot get something for nothing; thus, we also do not give without getting something in return. We are conditioned to lend money only to those who have the capacity to repay us, even with interest. We are somehow trained to be canny operators, that is, to do some favor to those who can reciprocate.
In other words, we are taught to be good, to be kind and to be helpful to those who are good, kind and helpful to us – especially to those who can help us in a bigger way in the future – be it in our job, profession, career, business, or in enhancing our image and reputation. We are motivated “to sow seeds of kindness and generosity” by the return, recompense, or reward we expect to get. And this runs counter to what grace is.
God, who is the Creator of all things, cannot be caught in our familiar games of exchange and reciprocity. God is the sovereign Lord – so his interventions are never out of need or calculation. They are always grace… free gift.
May we learn to love without calculating and measuring… to love prodigally and extravagantly.