What Is Your Harvest?


15th Sunday Ordinary Time

Fr. Peter Robinson

Preached: July 16, 2023

Like any good teacher, Jesus uses pictures – or parables, as we know them. In today’s chapter from the Gospel of Matthew, we have one of these pictures, to show us what Jesus most highly values.

We are introduced to a farmer, and the story is rather sad. Whatever the farmer does seems to fail. He only has a certain amount of precious seed, in order to plant a new crop to provide for his family. Yet, as he scatters the seed, a quarter is pecked up by birds. Another quarter of the seed is scorched by the sun. And yet another quarter is choked by thistles. So, the situation is hopeless, right?

No, thanks to the amazing power of a seed — it’s power to grow into a new plant, and to replicate many more seeds. You see, there is a minority of the farmer’s planting that does take hold in the soil, and grows, and provides an amazing harvest.

As you know, in Jesus’ telling of the story, the listener hears that three-quarters of the initial seed was wasted. But … Jesus focuses on the one-quarter of the seed that falls into fertile ground. And that one-quarter produces the abundance of an incredibly good harvest.

For example, assume that the sower began with, say, 1000 grains of wheat, and that 750 grains are wasted. Let’s focus then on the 250 grains that fall into good soil: 1) with an increase of 30 grains per seed, the result is 7,500 new grains; 2) with an increase of 60 grains per seed, the result is 15,000 new grains; and with an increase of 100 grains per seed, the result is 25,000 new grains. For those of you who are businesspeople, the initial investment suffered a 75% loss. But … the return on investment is either 750% or 1,250% or 2,500%.

In all of this, then, what is Jesus’ point? Well, within his ancient cultural context, people lived with limited goods, with limited resources. And yet, through the farmer’s hard labour, the yield of his crop provided for him and his family – and maybe even promoted him upward, economically-speaking.

But Jesus is not giving an agricultural seminar here: he’s a pastor, and a shepherd of OUR souls, too. So, he challenges you and me today, 2000 years after the telling of this story. Jesus asks: what are the birds pecking away the seed of eternal life planted in your heart, through your baptism? What is the scorching sun or the choking thistles, which are trying to annihilate the seed of eternal life that Jesus keeps sowing us?

Consider Jesus’ example: he, too, got depressed and wondered if he was getting anywhere in his calling by God. There were times when Jesus found himself alone, deserted — and even tortured. While on the cross, in the eyes of his onlookers he died an utter failure. Yet Jesus was completely faithful to the mission given to him by his heavenly Father.

Jesus, you see, is not asking us to be sowers of seed with 100% success by our world’s standards. Rather, he wants sowers that might even look like failures, whose planting is only 25% successful. That’s because he wants followers who acknowledge their brokenness, and who call out for HIS strength. That (from God’s point of view) is where the successful harvest lies.

Today, sisters and brothers, there must be something that you can show to the Lord with genuine pride and gratitude — be it a crop with a lot of grain, or only a little. All of us can say, “Look, Lord, this is the seed you gave me; it has grown, developed, and here is your harvest.”

As you stand in line to come to Communion in a few minutes, what harvest are you bringing with you, to Jesus at the Altar?


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