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Last summer when we were at the Sea of Galilee, we stayed at a monastery near the edge of the sea (a lake really). In the mornings I got up early and walked down to sit by the water.
I had to go down a gravel path, and through bushes and then onto a rocky beach -- no sandy beaches in this place. Here and there olive trees and flowering bushes grew in patches of soil.
In this morning's lectionary reading, Jesus explaines the parable of the seeds (Matthew 13:18-23). Reading this, I could imagine Jesus standing on this rocky beach pointing out the gravel path, the thorn bushes, the rocky shore and the patches of soil.
"But as for what was sown on good soil, 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."
It is tempting to read the parable as judgement on people who aren't Christians, or who are different kinds of Christians than me. But I don't think Jesus had that in mind at all. I think as he taught at the Sea of Galilee, he pointed out to his listeners that the gravel, rocks, thorns and olive trees exist side-by-side in a hodge-podge of colors and textures. All of us are exactly like that, made up of gravel, rocks, thorns and good soil inside us. All of us have measures of each in our lives and in our souls. Jesus was urging us to find the good soil, and cultivate the goodness of it.
Good soil comes from compost, from the decay of those things that have died. From the heartbreaks, sorrws and wounds of our life can come good soil, and from that can come new life, new joys, new fruit "and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."
And from that will come the Kingdom of God in our lives and in our world.