I have been into planting seeds and watching them germinate and grow into a plant. In the process, I realized that not every seed sprouts. Not every seedling survives and grows into a nice plant. No matter how much I want them to.
The most challenging so far is to grow lemon balm. For those few that sprouted, they usually died shortly after, despite me giving it enough water. I later discovered that worms invaded the soil and killed my seedlings. I refused to give up. I planted more seeds again, read up on the conditions lemon balm needs. Only recently had I found out that I was watering my seedlings too much, which invited flies to lay eggs and the roots would also rot. After many tries, my lemon balm seedlings now are finally growing well.
The strangest was when I was growing basil. I sowed basil seeds and was most delighted when they sprouted. I happily transferred the tiny seedlings into a nice pot of soil and later found out that somehow – and I am totally clueless about this even till today – what was growing in that pot was not basil but weeds. The landscaper at my place told me. Well, it is quite a nice weed with green leaves with a tinge of yellow. So I decided to let it grow in my pot anyhow. It is life all the same.
Last Sunday’s Gospel spoke about a farmer sowing seeds, which fell on different kinds of grounds. In our apostolate work, we are like farmers sowing seeds for God’s Kingdom. I would like to draw our attention today to the disposition of the sower. When we sow, what is subtly going on within us? Do we attach conditions to our sowing? Prerequisites?
It would be quite silly of me to, before planting these seeds, examine, evaluate, calculate (if I can) each of their internal composition, hypothesize and conclude which will germinate and grow into a healthy plant and which will not. I do not do research or alter the genes of the seed to control the outcome. As a farmer, as a sower, I simply sow. That is what I am called to do.
However, it is not always that I find it easy to apply this same attitude to sowing seeds for God’s Kingdom. For all too often, I judge prematurely if someone is good soil for me to sow seeds on. If I suspect that it might not reap much results, I would subconsciously avoid reaching out and turn towards others who might have a greater potential in responding positively to my sowing. I sow with the harvest as my focus. But the harvest is not within my control. It is God’s to control. I can do my best to give my seeds and seedlings the best conditions I know they need but yet their survival is hardly my doing because if it were, then all my seeds would have grown into healthy plants just as I will for them to. I do not breathe life into them. God does. And He sustains them with His breath.
So it is in our apostolate work. Wherever there are seeds to be sown, let us sow and let God breathe His life into our work. When seedlings die after some time, let us sow again. And again. For God never gives up on His beloved people. When weeds grow, may our disappointment not keep us from trying again.
Definitely, we do not reach out to everyone in the same manner. We do need to be discerning about where people are, what they are ready for, what is their style, etc. It is not a one size fits all. If someone is truly unreceptive or difficult to approach, it does not mean we give up on that person. Our way of sowing can be altered. Even a genuine smile or a simple “Have a good day” towards one who only responds with a glare. Just as the first reading also told us, that God’s word does not return to Him without it having done what God had willed, any love we sow would not return to us without it having moved something that perhaps was too hidden from our sight to notice. Every seed of mercy, every seed of compassion. God sees them all and blesses them all. Love itself is His breath and life.
May we be good soil for God’s love to take root in us so that we may be good sowers of His life and love in the lives of those He sends to us.