Today's Gospel is well known, unlike many parables that Jesus told it comes with a clear and simple explanation. It's very timely for me. As I mentioned I’ve been in quarantine for the last two weeks. In preparation for the quarantine I decided I would grow my flowers from seed, go off the grid. I was going to make the Butchart Gardens in Victoria look like a low budget farm! Unfortunately I seriously underestimated the number of seeds I would need. I got the first inkling that something wasn’t right when the seeds arrived in an envelope. Seriously! 25 grams sounds like a lot. It isn’t! I ended up in my garden with tweezers and a magnifying glass strategically planting each individual seed with the most care and focus on survival.
So then I read this Gospel that I have preached on so many times before. I have to tell you that gardener was sure messy! Seeds were flying everywhere! In the past I preached on the seeds and the ground as symbolic of our faith response. Today I would like to focus for a moment on the gardener who obviously is symbolic of God. Rather than seeing the seeds as symbols of faith I now believe the seeds represent God's invitation. The invitation goes to everyone, no restrictions or limits. This is not the first time we are introduced to this theme of God's abundance. For example, we see this theme in the parable from Luke 14:7-14 where the king is preparing a wedding banquet for his son and again we witness the theme at the Wedding at Cana John 2:1-11 where Jesus made wine not just to tie the couple over til the stores opened but over 360 gallons!
Many have problems with God's unconditional invitation and love because of the conditional nature of human love. Our belief that God cannot be loving us if bad things or struggles come our way. The belief that love needs to be earned and can be withdrawn at any time get's in the way of experiencing God. Naturally people want to understand God but when they do not understand God's ways they cannot see His goodness. Our understanding of God's forgiveness can be a mystery when we believe forgiveness has to be earned. There are many actions like suffering of the innocents, social injustice that I cannot explain but I am convinced these actions are not a result of limits of God's love and forgiveness. God's invitation can never be withdrawn regardless of our response or lack. We don’t have control over God's invitation. It's a free gift.
Yes, I agree that people can take advantage of God's goodness. This is the radical nature of God's invitation and love. To many it may seem unfair (Matthew 20:12). God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). We have to allow God to be God.
I want to add one more point about the seeds bearing fruit, some 30, 60 a 100 fold. I used to think that some people will be able respond 30% 60 while others 100. Upon further reflection I propose that Jesus is talking about the individual's response. Sometimes we will operate at 30 other days 60 and super days at 100. God doesn’t seem to mind. Personally I am pushing for the 100 but there are days when I barely get 30. It doesn’t matter to God.