The Gospel of the Word was announced that all men by faithful acceptance of the same might be included in the kingdom of Christ and in this kingdom might attain everlasting bliss.
Christ Himself–His identity, His kingdom, His goal in all His works–He offers us the key to understanding all His parables.
The parables of Christ do not fall into any other category of wise teaching. They do not offer wholesome morals like Aesop’s fables. They do not spell out helpful rules to live by like the sayings of Confucius. No one has ever successfully found a way to put the parables of Christ inside a cookie.
No, the gospel parables illustrate; they illuminate; they make visual and visible the as-yet-invisible reality of the Kingdom of Christ Himself.
Now, the Gospel. The Gospel of the incarnate Word of God. The Good News, euangelion. A seed. That God has sown in a field. And that we, too–if we would co-operate with God–must also sow.
In ancient Palestine, the arable hillsides had rocky patches. And you had to have a path through your fields, because the whole idea of private property was totally different back then, and people would walk on your land willy-nilly. Also, the thistles would germinate and sprout as weeds in farm fields, no matter what you did. They would grow up right alongside your wheat.
So Palestinian seed faced numerous perils in real life, just as the Lord narrated in His parable. But, for today, let’s focus on the seed on the path, the seed that gets eaten up immediately by the pigeons. The Lord Himself said that this refers to the souls who hear the Gospel without understanding it. The souls who hear the Gospel without understanding it.
Now, even the holiest monks and nuns would be the first to say, “We hardly understand the mystery of the kingdom of God.”
So we must interpret the idea of ‘not understanding’ the Gospel in the most basic sense. The seed that gets eaten up by birds refers to people who turn a deaf ear to the message of Jesus. They hear it, but they don’t hear it, because of indifference and coldness of heart. Because they take no trouble whatsoever to listen to God. They bear the guilt of blameworthy negligence with respect to the most fundamental and important aspects of life.
We should note that, later in the chapter, the Lord explains this phenomenon by referring explicitly to the Devil. “The Evil One comes and steals” the Gospel.
The Word of God would easily free all mankind for the glory of eternal life. All we have to do is believe in it. We don’t really have to understand it. All we have to do is believe. Easy. So heaven would be full, and hell empty; Satan would have no one but fellow demons to chastise for all eternity–if only mankind could listen quietly for one minute to the simple proclamation of the Gospel of Christ.
But, of course, Satan has successfully sabotaged the listening part. He has accomplished his greatest trick. Namely, making mankind too daggone busy fussing and bothering about cellphone chargers, Netflix subscriptions, boyfriend troubles, office gossip, new cars, political scandals, LeBron-James tweets, missing Malaysian airplanes, and sales at WalMart. Satan has made mankind too busy with all this to pay attention to the message of salvation. The devil has turned the beautiful symphony of God’s creation into the dull, distracting noise of the world as we know it.
“God loves you and calls you to everlasting glory.”
“Wait a minute. Hold on. My phone’s ringing….”
So let’s give the devil his due. He and his demons can peck away the seed of the Gospel like champions. The whole nicey-nice version of Church doctrine, in which no one faces any real danger of damnation—this nicey-nice saccharine blather simply does not respect the devil’s enormous cleverness and success.
The fact of the matter is that the pigeons are eating up an awful lot of people’s chance to get to heaven. Plenty of obtuse, shallow, lazy-minded spiritual dolts are well on their way to hell. We may be among them.
The question for us is: What are we going to do about this real and threatening danger? What are we going to do to scare Satan’s Gospel-pecking pigeons away? Apparently, in ancient Palestine, farmers would often hire people to wave their arms and shoo the birds away from their fields after sowing their seeds.
Do we honestly think that we will cruise right on into heaven, no problem, without cultivating some kind of serious spiritual discipline? Do we honestly think that we can serve Christ faithfully, and help win souls for the Kingdom, without a painful and conscientious effort to stop living for money, or pleasure, or prestige, or power? Without a firm resolution to give up worldliness and turn down the dark and frightening path of spiritual warfare? Our baptismal vows state it all clearly. We renounce the empty pomps of the Enemy, and we embrace the invisible glory of God.
The truth of God’s love is simple. God loves everyone and everything. God wills our eternal bliss. He has clearly shown this by the holy mystery of His Son’s incarnation. Our response also is simple. Yes, I believe, we believe. With all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I believe. Simple.
But the battle to reach this pure simple moment of truth: it is all-consuming. Let’s fight it. We respect the Gospel-pecking devil enough to fight him with everything we’ve got. And we’ve got the Lord Jesus on our side, so we can step into this grim battle with a confident smile. If we stay close to Christ, and obey His straightforward commandments, the seed of truth will grow in us, we will have life, and we will have what it takes to share this life with others.