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A Ducky and a Horsey?

the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest
Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65:10-14; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23

Sermon Week Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 13:23

One spring day, a gardener showed his neighbor a packet of seeds he had just purchased. The seed envelope pictured a beautiful array of exotic flowers. “I'm hoping this will be my best flower garden ever," the man told his neighbor. A month later, the neighbor again stopped by and asked, "How's your flower patch doing?"

“I'm sorry to say it hasn't done very well," the gardener replied. "That's a shame. Was it bad soil? Pests? The hot weather?" the neighbor inquired. The man shook his head. "Then maybe your seed was the problem," the neighbor suggested. "Yeah, I suppose the seed was the problem," the man admitted. "You see, I never got around to planting it!"

Getting the seed into the ground can sometimes be the hardest part of growing things, especially in first-century Israel. In the days of Jesus, managing a meagre harvest from the land was a back-breaking struggle. The area itself was the first obstacle. Palestine is a hilly country, and much of the planting is carried out on steep slopes. Often the hill had to be terraced to hold the soil in place. The ground itself was fertile enough but extremely rocky. And clearing the field of rocks was a never-ending task.

A second obstacle was the climate. The five months of burning heat in Israel can sometimes pass without a single drop of rain. On the colder days, when dew condensed in the evening, the farmer would rise earlier than usual to cultivate the soil to keep the moisture from evaporating too quickly.

And, like the man in our earlier story, there was the challenge of getting the seed into the ground. Seeds were not planted in careful rows. The sower hung a bag of seed on a pack-animal, tore a small hole in the bag, and then led the animal back-and-forth through the field, spilling seed with every step. Sowing by hand was harder work but gave better coverage. But even when sown by hand, much of the seed fell in places where it was impossible to take root.

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