Today's Gospel reading comes from the 4th chapter of Mark, the familiar Parable of the Sower. In fact, for many of us, this parable is so familiar that it is hard for us to read it attentively and afresh because we have heard it so many times! As I have written and taught elsewhere, we are so familiar with this parable and so aware of Jesus' point in it, as soon as we hear it or hear of it, we tend to smugly think to ourselves, "Thank God I'm good soil..." and move on without so much as a second thought.
Please, not today.
I want to encourage us to read and think of this parable NOT as one in which the hearers respond to the Word of God only once or ultimately--as if this parable merely describes the eternal fate of believers and unbelievers who have responded to the Word. This is a valid interpretation, and the understanding of many; however, I think it misses a very important point that is not original to me.
My point is this: every time we hear the Word of God, we respond in one of the ways described in this parable. Every time we hear the Word, our hearts can be hard. Every time we hear the Word, we can let the troubles of the world choke it out. Every time we hear the Word, we can receive it with gracious and fertile hearts. In other words, we should think of this parable and the condition of our hearts every time we hear the Word.
Let us draw near to Christ in humility each and every time, not with hearts hardened (without our knowledge) by our own arrogance.