Jesus said to his disciples:
"Hear the parable of the sower."
Today's gospel reflects the disappointment of the early church and its satisfaction.
Much of their missionary effort seemed to be wasted on those who hear without understanding, those who dive into it with inane enthusiasm, and those who devoutly embrace the gospel but never surrender their worries and anxieties. Psalm 126 recalls the hardship of sowing:
They go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing; and the joy of the harvest: they will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.
There is such sweet delight at the end of this parable! We should contemplate that joy and consider Jesus' interpretation of his parable, "...the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."
I am no farmer but I suppose a yield of a hundredfold is astonishing; sixty- and thirtyfold are more than satisfactory, even when one considers the blood, sweat and tears that went into sowing the seed. Gathering such a harvest the farmer becomes like the mother who has forgotten the agony of her labor as she nurses her newborn.
Anyone who has worked for the Church knows that satisfaction but with this remarkable difference: we're talking about human beings. They cannot be counted, sorted or tabulated with numbers.
Occasionally it happens that I meet a former patient of the VA Hospital who has learned the hard lessons of recovery and no longer drinks alcohol, smokes crack or shoots heroin. It happens rarely because they don't need to come by the hospital often. But it is such a pleasure and thrill to meet this person.
This is not the satisfaction of a job well done, though the Veteran may thank me for my ministry. It's more like the happiness of seeing God's glory fully alive. It's nothing I did; it is far more beautiful than anything I could do. This is the work of the Lord, indeed we are glad!