Let a Tiny Seed Teach You

Scripture    Matthew 13: 1- 23


 But as for what was sown on good soil,

this is the one who hears the word and understands it,

who indeed bears fruit and yields,

in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”


Jesus may have been a natural farmer. Certainly he was attuned to the creative forces around him in his natural Galilean geography and was able to teach by these examples that were familiar to his listeners. We watch him crafting parables using ‘tiny seeds’ as his teaching tool to proclaim some very profound lessons about spiritual growth and maturation. Over these next few weeks we will listen to several of these parables about seeds. This week we hear about the seeds that flourish in the good moist soil and other seeds that, falling on rocky ground, shrivel up and die after a few weeks because there is no depth for their roots to take hold. Next week we listen to the parable of the weeds and the wheat growing up together until harvest time. Always a marvel to behold, is the parable of the tiniest of all seeds, the mustard seed, becoming the largest shrub and birds of the air coming and making nests in its branches.  


For a seed to bring forth life it must fall into the ground and die! In today’s Gospel Jesus addresses the eternal principle and the essential practice – “all new life is born of death”.  Even a tiny seed must pass through a self-emptying death so as to come to life. Jesus draws a parallel between the seed’s self-emptying process of dying and being transformed into a plant with our human lives being emptied so as to live completely transformed in God’s life.


The seed must die! It is a death to itself, to its life as a seed.  It must lose its properties of being a seed. It surrenders itself to being buried in the ground to be emptied of its seed identity. Yet in undergoing this emptying, a tremendous potential for new and fuller life is set in motion.  The dormant seed contains within itself the capacity to become a living plant.  Unfruitful as long as it remains a single seed, once buried in the ground, the process of becoming a fruitful plant begins.


There is within the seed itself, a life-force straining to break out and root the plant firmly in good soil. Once planted… the seed life activates, animates its own growth from within. Dying to itself, it lives off its cotyledons, is vivified, empowered with a movement. The seed’s potential for growth, for action, is set in motion… first germinating, then sprouting, then growing, maturing, then producing seed… And the life cycle of the seed repeats itself.


Most of this work is hidden, invisible, obscure, accomplished in the mystery and darkness of the soil.  But in time, the effects of the ‘inner life workings’ of a tiny seed become manifest, fruitful, productive. Yes, they can yield a good harvest.  “But the seed must die.”


This parallels much the same process transpiring in our own spiritual lives. We are given a personal invitation to “come to new life through death.”  Jesus has invited us to follow him in the pattern of his death and resurrection, in his self-emptying obedience to the Father. We are sharers in the paschal mystery. ”Lose your life and you will find it.” The only real life living within you is the spark of this divine life. The “new life” emerging out of this self-emptying death undergoes a similar process in us. This dying to the old ego self - the false self - is an ongoing process of being stripped and emptied. We simply abide in a continual posture, like an act of self-oblation, as we undergo the letting go of self-centeredness and our own controlling self.  Uprooting this ‘self’ from myself….means a dying totally to myself in order to live only in, for, by, and through the God-life living in me. 


Just as the seed life works this miracle transformation in the darkness and obscurity of the soil, so too will we undergo this self-emptying process in a similar hidden, invisible manner. We bring to it our faith and trust in God’s power at work in a tremendous potent, life-producing receptivity.  We let God be done is us at every moment of every day.  We allow Divine Love  to empty us of every kind of attachment, sensuality, greed, pride and vanity, in order to have us live by the movements of grace alone.


The God-life within us activates our spiritual growth and maturation.  As time goes on we may have the feeling of our life being more completely self-emptied.  With St. Paul we can say: “I live but it is no longer I who live it is Christ who lives in me.”


Living in this self-emptying, God brings forth out of this emptiness all that is pleasing to the Divine Goodness – good fruits, good deeds, great or small, hidden or manifest, all according to the divine plan for each one of us.  He produces the fruitfulness, be it one hundredfold, sixty or thirty. Each person will come to experience the void being filled with grace and compassion. The emptiness of my-self collapses into a fullness of life with the only real life that we were born to experience and know intimately:“You live in me and I live in You. May we be completely one.”


This life, this divine life, vivifies us and causes us to bloom wherever we are planted. The Divine Indwelling animates, permeates, activates our whole person. We are those instruments moved by God alone – one life living in me.  It is an intimate union of my emptiness and your being so that “I live in you and you live in me.” 

I love through your love

I speak through your words

I act through your actions

I am only in You.

(J.P. Medaille, sj)


This self-emptying death is truly a most desirable favour to receive in this life. The seed at full maturation is  to live in Christ and with Christ in God in the here and now, and one day to perfectly enjoy this union in eternity, transformed in Christ, in glory. We are all called to respond to this self-emptying death, to follow Jesus all the way through the paschal mystery, and to do this with a full and generous heart.  “Thin sowing means thin reaping” and “God loves a cheerful giver.”  Jesus’ promise to all those who follow him into the fullness of the paschal mystery with a wholehearted receptivity is:  “My Father will honour you.”


So may we listen well to these parables and trust the tiny seed to teach us a mystery that will leave us tending the gardens of our souls with care and delight.



Carrying Grace    Enjoy your garden work. Delight in its beauty. Prune and fertilize.  Are you doing the same for your soul?




#1 arletteh 2011-07-11 00:55
We have all been “patterned” to be good soil(our true selves) producing abundantly, according to our gifts. Part of us becomes rocky, hardened like the path, choked by thorns, shallow soil. The process of producing good, abundant fruit is so lengthy, at times a very arduous one, yet, “I will remove their hearts of stone, and give them hearts of flesh.”(Eze.11: 19.) We, through prayer, meditation, come to know the Beloved who created us and loves us unconditionally and reconciles us. Thus we begin to cultivate our soil, soften it up, water it with openness to God’s grace, weed it through discipline, fertilize it, and begin the work of harvesting through loving service. “Through perseverance you will gain your souls.”(Lk. 21:19).Thus, we come to “look with our eyes”—“listen with our ears, and understand with our heart and turn,” and experience how very much our Maker wants to heal us : “ I would heal them.”

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