We are told that in Biblical times, farmers would broadcast a large amount of seed all over an unplowed field and then they would plough the seeds into the soil so that they would have a chance to germinate. Needless to say, the use of this method meant that a lot of seeds would be wasted, but it also insured that the best soil would be productive.
Once when planting a modest vegetable garden, a friend of mine had finished turning the fertilized soil and was admiring the straight furrows he had made in preparation for seeding. All of his seed envelopes were open and ready in a well-ordered box and so he began the careful spacing of bean seeds. One at a time... not too close... not too far apart.
His little girl appeared at his side, all smiles and curiosity. Trying not to break his concentration, he explained in grown-up tones what he was doing. No doubt she became bored with his laboured explanation of the obvious because she was soon running across his ever so straight and neat furrows and blowing some fine dust from the palms of her cupped hands... into the wind... over the furrows and beyond.
Her performance lasted but a moment or two and then she was skipping her way back toward their house. Shaking his head, he began to restore precious order to his ruptured furrows and then he reached for the open envelope of carrot seeds. It was empty, absolutely empty. Not one of the minute, almost dust-like carrot seeds was left.
You guessed it; the little girl had happily broadcast them all over whole area. When at last his garden came to fruition, the beans and the radishes, the lettuce and the onions, were in perfect rows, a delight to the orderly mind. But the carrots! There were carrots here and there and everywhere - some big and some healthy - others stunted and barely hanging on to life.
The parable of the sower presents an image of God who, like the farmer of old, spreads His word in all directions. Like the little girl in the garden, He seemingly abandons any sense of discipline, order or priority in favour of a joyful and profligate outpouring of His love. He does not carefully martial all of the so-called deserving, upright and dependable into an orderly formation like beans in a row, there to bless and nourish them... ignoring the less receptive, the wounded, the suspicious. Rather, He reaches out to everyone and invites them to grow toward Him, in their own way. He doesn't look for uniformity. He looks for openness and generosity.
The late Brazilian Bishop, Dom Helder Camara wrote this little poem that says it all:
Isn't your creation wasteful?
Fruits never equal
The seedling's abundance.
Springs scatter water.
The sun gives out enormous light.
May your bounty teach me greatness of heart.
May your magnificence stop me from being mean.
Let me give unstintingly, like a king's son,
Like God's own.
Please note that much if not most of the above reflection was borrowed from a long forgotten source. My respects to the original author. Fr. P.T.