Fr John’s Letter – 11th July 2020

Dear Parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s

‘Imagine a sower going out to sow…’

With these words, found in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells us one of his great parables, the parable of the Sower. The narrative has two parts. First comes the parable itself. Then the explanation of the parable’s meaning which Jesus gives to his disciples. A parable is a story with a hidden meaning. Only the disciples receive the explanation.

I have often wondered why Jesus concealed the meanings of his parables from the people he spoke to. Why just explain the meaning to the twelve? Didn’t Jesus come to teach and save everyone? If people were confused, wasn’t it right that Jesus should lift their confusion? These are questions that seem to be fair, but I think they miss the point.

As Jesus walked the length and breadth of Palestine, encountering huge numbers of people; teaching, healing, encouraging, he had just one purpose. ‘I have come to do the will of the One who sent me’. To open our eyes and hearts to who we are. To understand that we are created for love and precious to the One who made us. But Jesus made clear that love cannot be forced or coerced. True love is always freely given and received. It is not born of fear or anxiety.

The parables of Jesus require careful listening and attentiveness. It is as if Jesus is saying to us; ‘I have come so that you may know that you are loved and precious. But love requires love in return. The more you open your heart to my words, the more deeply you will understand their meaning. The more you love, the more free you will become’.

I think that the parable of the Sower is not primarily about the seed itself, which is the word of God, but about the soil that receives that seed. In other words, the parable is about the heart. This is the meeting place with the Sower, who is God. All the love that God has for us, all the good He wants to give us, is symbolised by that seed. But the focus is the soil that receives the seed. Jesus tells us that the richest soil is found in the one who hears the word, understands it and makes it their own.

Is my heart ready to listen? Is it open to God? Is the soil rich and healthy? Or have these last difficult months made my heart turn in on itself, become self absorbed, cut me off from others? We are hearing the word ‘reopening’ used a great deal at the moment. Maybe the greatest ‘reopening’ needs to take place in our hearts. They need to emerge from the hibernation of these past months and open up to the warmth and light of God’s love. To lose any roughness or hardness and become ‘hearts of flesh’ again. To learn to listen carefully. Then the words of Jesus will truly find a home within us.

God bless you all.

Father John