July 16, 2017
List to the reflection here, or read the text below.
Our parishioner, Mary Evans, gave birth to her baby son, Rohan, less than a month ago. It’s not her first child, so she knows about generativity. As she feeds, holds, rocks, diapers, and bathes little Rohan – over and over again, day and night, with little or no sleep – she passes along a bit of her very self to Rohan, over and over again. That is generativity, and it is also the spark of life that Rohan will draw on his entire life. And it’s what he will pass along to his children. Generativity lies at the core of the cycle of life.
This cycle of life can also be found in nature, as alluded to in our first reading from Isaiah:
Rain waters the earth
Fertile ground yields life – plants, animals, people
With time comes death, decay, return to the earth
Rivers flow and spread the nutrients throughout the land
Waters eventually flow into the sea and evaporate into clouds
Rain waters the earth
All for the sake of generativity – transmitting life to the next generation.
Essentially, this is what Isaiah says about the Word of God, God’s purpose in the world: it goes out and it returns. But in meantime it has been generative; it’s very essence has been passed along to others.
Hold onto these ideas. I’ll cycle back to them in a minute (pun intended).
Today’s Gospel story is a familiar one. And the classic interpretation of the story that most of us were taught says there are four types of people:
And of course, it’s obvious which group you’re supposed to join. You must always have a Rich Soil response to God’s activity in your life! Any other response falls short and is therefore unacceptable.
. . . Really? Is that even possible?
What if . . . we looked at this story from a different perspective?
First, consider the sower, is he (she?) careless and sloppy, casting seed all over the place. Would the farmer of Jesus’ day really be that cavalier with precious seed that was painstakingly gathered last harvest season?
Or, is Jesus’ sower (God) filled with boundless generosity?
Or, does Jesus’s sower (God) know something that we don’t know?
The answer, yes . . . and yes.
Second, let’s move away from the four groups and simply acknowledge that each seed belongs to each of us. In other words. . .
What if we looked at this not as three failures and one success, but instead a manifestation of the cycle of life? Go back to just the parable:
Indeed, the Sower knows something. Every seed is fertile and bears fruit throughout the cycle of life. I believe this is just what Isaiah was proclaiming in our first reading: “my word shall not return to me void, but will achieve the end for which I sent it.”
Take that to the bank. Take it to heart.
Indeed, take it to heart, those who lament that their children or grandchildren don’t go to church.
Take it to heart, those who feel as though their spirituality has gone stale and lifeless.
Take it to heart, those who struggle with the temptations and addictions of our shallow, instant gratification pop culture.
Take it to heart, those who have said or done the unforgivable and don’t know how to reconcile.
Take it to heart, every seed, every word from God, is fertile and fruitful . . . in the cycle of life.
Take it to heart, and make a simple prayer/pledge each morning not to join the fertile soil group, but rather: O God, just show me how to be generative today. Help me give away a bit of the essence of myself to someone who needs it, who needs me. Help me to participate in the cycle of life.