Have you ever reflected on the power of a “word”? And no I do not mean a single word but rather word that is a statement. For example, have you ever said to someone, “Get out!” or “hide!” or even “Now!” wanting to protect them from harm or consequences of something that you know to be dangerous, possibly even deadly for them?
Jesus stops in this week’s Gospel (Matthew 13.1-23) to reflect on the nature of the kingdom of heaven and the power of the word that is being preached across the region by him and his disciples. Some are expressing joy at seeing all the things that are happening: people are being healed, given their sight, their hearing, their ability to walk. There are people being freed from evil and people who were not in the community that are now in the community. They are even working on raising the dead! Jesus and the disciples are making other people aware of the nearness and the presence of the kingdom of God. People of the world are coming to know that we have a heavenly Father, and that this is his world.
A word about parables: gives us a chance to see and understand who God is – in this particular parable it might be that God could be seen as ”a lousy farmer” – who would broadcast his seed into places that are not prepared to receive it and prove to unproductive. He does watch to make sure that the seed doesn’t go to places it cannot produce the fruit of what has been planted. It goes everywhere – the path where everyone in the house walks, into the thrones and bushes, and onto the shallow ground where it has no root.
But the parable does not consider the nature of the farmer beyond the fact that the Farmer gets the perfectly good seed to the land. The Parable actually points to the ground, and how the ground responds to the seed – and the people to the word of the kingdom. Those who don’t respond are choked out by different things. Some people are unable to receive because evil steals the word before it can take root. Some have insufficient roots to withstand the test of faith. Other people are snarled up by the cares, changes and chances of this life while yet others are drawn inextricably to wealth and fame.
God sends his word and it does not return to him null and void but accomplishes that for which it was sent. The word of the Lord endures forever. It is a word of promise to his people who are cut off and far away from their homeland and think they are never going home again. They believe that God had been beaten and that they are by consequence, forsaken. Therefore God sends his word to his people. It is a word of promise that the bonds of affection will be renewed, that they will return and that they have not been forsaken. A “word” is sent forth to cause both action and a change in circumstance both personally and corporately.
In a Christian context this means that we need to deal with the things that will choke us out. We need to get our priorities sorted and deal with the sin in our lives. We do this by being in Christ. This does not mean that we have more faith in Christ but rather at we are in him and he in us. It means that through baptism we have died with him and have been raised with him to live his risen life. It means that we leave behind the old life with its structures, its sin and death. We leave it behind to discover that we are living his life – the gift of an eternal life in freedom and in service to him. We are not ruled any longer but sin and death – we are truly alive in Christ.
So ask yourself this week, “How has the word of God taken a hold of me?” Consider how have the roots of your life in Christ taken hold of you, shaped you and strengthened you? The word is not just words – it is an experience too! After all the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. So go! And in the going make disciples!