The work of God is full of promise, but comes to fulfillment only after much time, like a seed patiently waiting in the darkness of the earth. St. John Bosco, whose feast we celebrate today, knew this well. There is suffering as the seed breaks apart and loses itself for the new sprout to develop and appear on the surface of the earth. We could try linking this parable about the seed (sown within the dark earth) with the reading from 2 Samuel which reveal’s David’s murky past.
The dark, inert “earth” where the seed nestles, breaks apart and begins its new life is foreshadowed in the account of David’s adultery with Bathsheba, where the king first tried to make his dedicated soldier, Uriah, go home and sleep with his wife, to conceal the source of her pregnancy; and then, when Uriah refuses the offer of ease and pleasure, David treacherously has him killed in battle. How the word of God seems to dissolve in the dark earth of human misery.
David’s act of marital treachery is just the first of a long series of murders, sexual excesses and revolts within the Davidic family. We are at a loss for an adequate explanation why God should use such a darkly complex and tangled family to fulfill of his promises about an everlasting dynasty. The very ones through whom the promises were passed on turn out to be Bathsheba and her future son Solomon.
We cannot explain how the seed which falls into the ground becomes stalks of wheat providing grain and bread or the largest of all shrubs so that the birds build nests in its shade, any more that we understand God’s ways in the history of David. Yet just as wheat provides bread and the mustard tree shade, so also the story of David consoles us secretly and says: God does not give up on us or lose patience with us. We can be restored as David was, and God will do what he has promised to us. The seed of the future is in us right now.
Salvation is a patient interaction between God and ourselves. And we must encourage the salvation of each other, by showing patience and confidence in members of our family, community and neighborhood, through the long dark hours when the seed is in the earth, breaking apart and showing little or no sign of what it can, and eventually will, become.
(Adapted from ACP)