God’s promises are present within us, in ways that we must struggle to comprehend. The parable of the Sower links the mysterious working of grace both to the inner life-force of the seed (the Word of God) and to the potential of the soil – whether rocky, shallow or naturally arable. But of course free choice comes into it too. Since God has breathed his own Spirit into us, we humans are no more inanimate clods of earth than we are inert clay for the potter to mold. Somehow, our free response to God’s grace makes us both arable and mold-able!
In the middle of the story come some of the most difficult words of Holy Scripture, “They will look and not see, listen and not understand, lest perhaps they repent and be forgiven” (quoting from Isaiah 6:9-10.) But the passage ends with hope — for the trunk of the oak remains even when its leaves have fallen. The gospel assures us that hope will blossom in its time; but it insists on the human factor too, the condition of the soil, dealing with the thorns, rocks and obstacles to growth. We are not to wait passively and do nothing, simply waiting for God brings all to fulfillment. While life is often beyond our control and eventually we leave all to God, still we are expected to be faithful through difficult times. Salvation is the interaction of God’s mystery and our dedication. We must achieve what is humanly possible, and then in the end we can say, like Paul, “I planted the seed and Apollos watered it, God made it grow”, (1 Cor 3:6.)
(Adpated from ACP)