Posted on: Wednesday 17 August 2022
Posted in: Anglican Faith Connections
The Chaplain’s Column
I have a confession to make. When it comes to watching movies either on television or in the cinema, I can’t abide sad endings! Moreover, when I am reading a novel for the first time, I often read the last few pages to see how it ends especially if the book is a “Whodunnit”. To complete my confession, I also rush through unfamiliar books to follow the story, and get to the end, as quickly as possible! Stories I really enjoy, I go back again and again to read them more slowly in order to notice the skill of the novelist and his or her use of language. I usually find something I have missed in the first reading. It is the same with reading of the Bible. Not that I rush through it but rather every time I read it, I discover depths of meaning and insights that had not occurred to me before. Take for example, the Parable of the Sower which is in every Synoptic Gospel. If you remember, a sower casts the seed on hard ground (a path through the field), weedy soil, rocky ground, and good soil. It is only the seed which falls on the good soil which germinates. Now growing up I concentrated on the images of the path, weeds, and rocks. It was only later that I thought about the fact that if this was to be an image of the Kingdom of God, therefore their must be something more to it than such negative images. Was it the seed or was it the soil which is important? After all, they are the two consistent elements of the parable. The seeds can’t be the most important element as they grow depending on the type of soil on which they land. Therefore, the most important aspect of the parable is the soil and, being one of Jesus’ parables, there is usually a direct but subtle question put to the reader or hearer. In this case it is what sort of soil are you. Someone who responds wholeheartedly to the life and teaching of Jesus or one who doesn’t. I was quite satisfied with that explanation for a while but then I read it again and there is another detail I had not considered fully. Each seed that does grow into a plant has a different yield of crop; some great, some middling and some small but all do produce a crop. So, in our wholehearted response to the Kingdom of God, the outcome for all of us is different. There are great saints like Peter and Paul and lesser saints such as our own St Hilda and there is you and me. Yes, this parable does challenge us at the core of our faith. One last thought has come to me as I type, is this parable a proof text for the theological argument for predestination? But that is surely a subject for another Chaplain’s Column.
Fr Patrick Duckworth