Chapter Talk given by Mother Mary Barnes on 13 July 2011
Last Sunday we had the parable of the sower. The imagery in the story is very creative isn’t it? It lets our imagination loose so our minds we can easily picture the sower walking along scattering his seeds to the right and the left.
“Listen, a sower went out to sow. Some 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 at once, 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. Anyone who has ears should listen!”
If we think of all the homilies we have heard breaking open this reading, probably most of them would have focused on the soil or the ground. We are always hearing about how important it is to have good soil, fertile ground BUT, what about the seeds? They too have an important part to play in Jesus’ parable but they often get neglected.
Well, a corn farmer has another take on the parable which gives the seeds due recognition!
Each year this farmer entered his corn in the state fair and it won a blue ribbon.
One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbours.
“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbours when they are entering in competition with yours each year?” the reported asked.
“Why sir,” said the farmer, “didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbours grow inferior corn, cross pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbours grow good corn.”
James Bender “How to Talk Well”
The farmer is very much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbour’s corn also improves.
In reading this story I thought again of Chapter 72 of the Rule where St Benedict talks about the good zeal which monks must foster with fervent love. We have spoken a great deal about this chapter already this year and now, as we return to a more normal time again after the difficulties of the past few months, it is time to remind ourselves of St Benedict’s challenge once again.
What are you growing in your field….what am I growing? Is it good zeal or bitter zeal?
And therefore what seeds are we sharing with others because that is what will be returned to us.
So often we hear people say:
“Why am I being treated like this?”
“Why doesn’t she like me?”
“Why doesn’t he talk to me?”
“Why is he always putting me down?”
“Why doesn’t she show me some respect?”
St Benedict, RB72 gives us the answer to these questions when he says:
Be the first to show respect to the other.
Be the first to scatter the seeds of respect, love, kindness, patience, acceptance, tolerance. Do not wait for the other person to scatter their seed but get in first! Then it will come back to you a hundredfold.
So, if I am not experiencing love and acceptance, then I need to ask myself what sort of seeds am I scattering?
In the words of the Prayer of St Francis, slightly adapted, let us pray for and with one another:
Lord make me the SEED of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me be the first to sow love;
Where there is injury, let me be the first to sow pardon;
Where there is doubt, let me be the first to sow faith;
Where there is despair, let me be the first to sow hope;
Where there is darkness, let me be the first to sow light;
Where there is sadness, let me be the first to sow joy.
O Divine Sower,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to be the first to sow consolation;
To be understood as to be the first to sow understanding;
To be loved as to be the first to sow love.
For it is in giving and sharing with others that we receive;
It is in being the first to sow pardon that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying to ourselves that we sow the seeds of eternal life. Amen.
Don’t wait for the other person! Be the first to sow the good seeds of love. Don’t sit back waiting for the seeds to fall upon you. Start to scatter the good seed upon others yourself, NOW. If we all took the initiative…if we were all the first to scatter the best seed, imagine how much goodness and grace would spring forth every moment of every day within our communities!
A sower went out to sow.
Anyone who has ears should
Listen and Listen again!