Today’s Gospel features the familiar parable of the “Sower of the Seed” and one of the key words of this story is “sow.” The word “sow” does not capture the original sense of the meaning Jesus was trying to convey in the parable.
Sowing for a farmer in first century Palestine involved the farmer flinging the seeds with his hand over the ground in which he intended and prepared for his crop. Granted this was not the neatest or restrictive manner of planting and would have likely driven people with OCD away from farming, had OCD been understood or diagnosed.
The original word in our English language that better described sowing was “broadcasting.” Today broadcasting is used exclusively with mass media, but it still retains the essence of the word’s original meaning. The act of throwing something out broadly in hopes that most of what is cast ends up in its intended destination. For first century farmers, the thing broadly cast was seed and for mass media, the thing being cast broadly (through the air, cable or internet) is the show or program over the millions of people who may be tuned in some way.
One of the less emphasized points of this parable is the symbolic association between the farmer sowing and the generous nature in which God sows the word. God sows his word widely and broadly, everywhere and to everyone. The idea is that God’s word is available to all.
Similarly, this idea in reinforced in the first reading from Isaiah,
“Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down and do not return there
till they have watered the earth”
For us, it is comforting to know that God’s word is available to us constantly and abundantly. No matter how receptive we are to God’s word at different points of our life, God constantly shares his word in hopes that eventually, by generosity and abundance, somehow at some point, God’s word is planted within us.