Commented Bible Passages

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of 3 to 10 people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer.

JPEG - 134.8 kb



Matthew 13:3-9: A God of Surprises
Jesus spoke a parable, saying: A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Those who have ears, let them hear! (Matthew 13:3-9)

In the text, Jesus takes an almost banal image from everyday life to explain our relationship with God. He speaks of a farmer who casts his seed everywhere so that it will grow and he will have a good harvest.

It is as if Jesus wanted to tell us: God gives to all, without measure. All God can do is give life. You don’t have to go to a lot of trouble to figure out how to deserve God’s love; he gives that love to you constantly.

The real question raised by this parable is another one, namely: how can we receive what God gives us? A seed, after all, does not grow all by itself. It must find suitable ground to bear fruit.

In ourselves and in our world, there are many obstacles that prevent God’s life, God’s love, from being communicated and from growing. The Letter from China mentions one of these when it says: “Too many trials can make it impossible to trust in God.” Negative experiences of the past can harden us and cause us to doubt God’s goodness.

But trials can also make us less self-sufficient, more ready to welcome what comes from elsewhere. Paradoxically, they can sometimes help us to go further on the road towards greater life. No, the deepest obstacle to receiving the gift of God is not suffering but the refusal to let ourselves be disturbed, out of fear or comfort.

God always surprises us. Children love surprises, but for adults they are not always immediately enjoyable. They shake up our routine; we are no longer fully in control of things; we are set on a road heading into the unknown. But if we never let ourselves be called into question, how can we discover the life beyond all hopes that God offers us?

This willingness to accept what we cannot control is called trust. And when the gift of God encounters a trusting heart, everything becomes possible. That is what the parable calls bearing fruit a hundredfold. The entire universe is recreated by the yes of a heart that trusts.

We hear that yes clearly in the New Testament on the lips of a young girl, Mary, the mother of the Lord, when the angel Gabriel comes to her: for her, he was like the sower in the parable. We hear it above all in Jesus Christ, whose whole existence can be summed up in one phrase: “Father, not my will but yours be done.”

Do we imagine that the experience of the Virgin Mary and Jesus is far from our own? On the contrary, by our baptism their yes becomes ours. Christ commits himself with us to fulfill the promise. If we enter into ourselves and quiet down, then, as the Letter from China invites us to do, we can discover in ourselves the good ground that desires to receive the Word. And in the long run, this will transform the desert of our world into a flourishing garden.

- Is it hard for me to believe that God always offers me his love? Why?

- What are the obstacles in and around me that keep me from receiving that love?

- Have there been times when I discovered God’s presence and activity by surprise?

Other bible meditations:

Last updated: 1 April 2024