The Mystery of Fruitfulness

A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when He had said these things, He cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And His disciples asked Him, saying, What might this parable be? And He said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns and they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience (Luke 8:5-15).

Today we heard the parable of the sower and about the potential fate of individual seeds. Some fall by the wayside, some on shallow ground, and others among thorns. But we are all meant and called to be ground bearing fruit an hundredfold and to be among those which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

The ground of the soul must, first, be “good,” harmonious and congruent with the seed. Second, it must be “pure,” containing no seeds of delusions and vices that might grow into passion and choke the rest. And it must trust the power of the received seed and be endlessly patient, so as not to unearth it every day: there is nothing yet of which to boast or to cause despondency.

But Holy Scripture reveals the mystery of fruitfulness even more profoundly, showing, as it were, an image of the merging of the Divine seed with the heart that receives it: For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:19-20). These are the bonds that so marvelously entwine the Word of God with the living soul: death with death, and life with life. In the soul there should be a sense of one’s own death and a thirst for true life. There should also be an understanding of the saving necessity of the death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; and, again, a willingness to be crucified with Christ for the sake of entering His life. If both life and death are not perceived as equally necessary, then the Divine seed will not endure the hot sun and will neither suppress thorns nor bear fruit.

Yet the saddest fate is that of the seed that fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. The Lord explained that these are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. Why seize and take it away? Is it not enough that the seed is already in dead ground? But the devil knows that the soul can revive, come to itself, and catch hold of the seed. But what does he do with the seed that is carried away? He distorts it, mixes lies into it, and renders it back through heretics and sectarians – just as the devil offered the Lord Jesus Christ a word torn from the Bible. He lifted Jesus on high and said: If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge over Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone. The Lord knew how to reply to this. But someone else, one who has the thorn of pride in his heart and thirsts for flattery and praise, might be seduced and cast himself down, forgetting what was also spoken: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Matthew 4:6).

Therefore let us be swift to hear and, most importantly, to do (cf. James 1:19, 22). Because if we do not listen calmly to the Word of God that is spoken to us, the devil will immediately take it away, rendering it exciting, accommodating it to our passions, and sweetening it with his poison. And this latter, false knowledge will be worse than the former and full of ignorance.

Translated from the Russian

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