Luke 8:5-15 

The Sower

The Twentieth First Sunday 

after Pentecost

Luke 8:5-15

 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. {6}
And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered
away, because it lacked moisture. {7} And some fell among thorns; and
the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. {8} 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.
{9} And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
{10} 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. {11} Now the parable is
this: The seed is the word of God. {12} 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. {13} 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.
{14} And that which fell among thorns are 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. {15} 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.


In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 
Today is the Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost, and it is also the day
that we remember the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council.
This council established permanently what the church had always known
concerning the holy icons. 

Today, we read the parable of the Sower, which is a very familiar
parable, known even to people  that are not Christians. So many  of
these parables are really part and parcel of our culture. People even
use biblical  terminology and don-t even know that they are using it.  

How do these parables affect us? There is an inner meaning and an outer
meaning to these parables. Why did our  Lord speak in parables? He
certainly  said quite a few of them , didn-t He? Why did he say things
with a hidden meaning? The Fathers explain to us that when you look into
something deeply and carefully, when it takes effort  to look into it,
then you develop more of an understanding. If something is handed to you
and there is no  effort involved in learning it, then you develop very
little understanding. 

We can see this principle even  in secular life. Look at how young
people can barely even read and write now, because of this television
age that we are in. Information is given to them so freely it takes very
little effort to find it out. 

Also the parables are given because God does not those  who are not
worthy to be told things that they will be judged for. A man must do
some investigation if he is to learn the deep meaning of these things,
and God will judge us for what we know. God will  also judge us for what
we don-t know, if we CHOOSE to not know things. God will judge us  the
same if we know something and don-t do it  or we choose to be ignorant
in the ways of piety. If we are willfully ignorant, and this occurs
whenever we do not try to seek out the knowledge of God-s commandments
and exercise them in our life, God will then judge us in the Judgment,
even if we try to say we do not know something. 

What is the inner and outer  meaning of this parable? There is a lot of
explanation given for this parable, even in the very text of scripture
itself. It is  very rare in scripture where our Lord actually explains
the deeper meaning of some dark saying of His. The Apostles came to Him,
and they must have also come to Him many other times, and they  said, we
don-t understand this at all. He explained this to them, because it-s
meaning is so important. 

?A sower went out  to sow his seed¦. Who is the sower? None other than
the Lord Jesus Christ.  Be careful when you read scripture -- every word
has meaning.  The Sower went OUT  to sow his seed¦. He did not go ?out¦
from the farmhouse and start to work -- this  ?going out¦ is the
incarnation of the Son of God. The seed is the word of God, those words
that He spoke. 

As he sowed, some seed fell by various places, the wayside, the rock, 
among the thorns and on good ground. It ?fell¦. It  was not thrown. It
fell everywhere equally, and these places, are the souls of men. The
preexisting one, Jesus Christ, thought it not robbery to be equal to us,
and became a man. And He sowed his teaching to the entire  universe,
equally and freely to all men. It is available to everyone. 

There  are four kinds of men described in this parable, and, three of
those kinds perished. Three out of the four kinds of men will perish.
The majority will perish.  This is true in our age, and has been true in
every age. The majority of people will not inherit the Kingdom of God,
because they are not the good ground. And yet our Lord and Savior still
sows His seed, and still gives the opportunity to a man to accept Him
and to follow  His commandments. 

Remember the story of the talents? The man with the one talent -- our
Lord knew that He was not going to use this talent. Remember what a
talent is? It is the grace of God, which enables us to  do good works,
to do His commandments, and to learn more of Him. The man with the one
talent is like the ground by the wayside. The fowls of the air 
immediately snatch away the word  from his heart, and he  never really
believes at all. I am sure we have known people like that, who really 
have no belief whatsoever. The wayside is hard, and packed down. No seed
can penetrate into it, and it is washed away, or it sits there, prey for
the birds of the air. The  birds are the demons, which snatch away the
word from a man-s heart, but  only because a man leaves it out there,
unprotected, and  does not cherish it. The demons cannot take away the
word from  your heart if you hold it close to yourself, only if you care
nothing for it.

So these men by the wayside,  they have no part in salvation whatsoever,
they never even bothered to believe.  Some of the seed fell upon the
rock, and when it was  spring up, it withered away, because it lacked
moisture. Have you every  been to a glade? This is an area where there
is a thin layer of soil over limestone bluffs, and only  certain kinds
of plants can grow. When there is a drought, everything dies, except for
a few very hardy trees. There is a little bit of soil, a very small
amount, but there is not enough soil to retain any moisture, which is
the essence of Christ. There is just a small amount of knowledge, and
not much struggle or desire,  and at the merest, smallest trial, such a
person falls away, and he perishes. 

Some people are thorny  ground. The thorns spring up with the good
wheat, the  word of God. These thorns choke out the following of the
commandments. They choke out the knowledge of God, because we turn away
from God, to our thorns, whatever they are, whether they be riches,
cares of this world, sensual pleasures,  our pride, our fear, ambition.
There are hundreds of ways that a man can turn away from Christ, even
though  he appears to be a Christian. 

Remember the parable about the wheat and the tares? These tares are the
same as thorns. The tares are growing up right by the wheat, and except
to a man who  has extreme discretion and knowledge, and of course, the
God-man, Jesus Christ, such people are sometimes  indistinguishable to
true Christians. They go to church, they have families, they may give
alms, and they do everything externally just like everybody else, except
they don-t have any life within them. Where their treasure is, so their
heart is, and their treasure is not Christ, so Christ is not with them.
Those people who are amidst the thorns have not Christ, even though they
would call themselves Christians.  

Some of the seed, a small amount of the seed, by the way, fell on good
ground. And it sprang up and bear fruit. St. Luke  says a hundred fold,
and St. Matthew also recounts this story and shows that the Lord gave
other information. Some sprang up thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred
fold, because not all the Saints are the same.  Not everyone follows the
word of God to the same degree, or the  same amount. I guess that is
good news to me, because I don-t at this moment think that I can become
like the Saints. I shouldn-t think this way, because God  can change a 
man, if he only gives himself to Him. However, if none of us lives with
the LOFTY righteousness of the Saints,  God has a place  for us in His
mansion, since there are many rooms, if we  make an effort to live
according to His commandments. 

I have said this  many times before; success is not as important as your
effort. If you make an effort, then in the end, paradoxically, you will
be successful, because God will receive your repentance, and reward you,
for some thirty, some sixty, some one hundred. May it be that we all
receive a hundred fold. May  we all be like the man who had five
talents, and labored and increased it to ten, and then our Lord gave him
an infinite amount of grace. 

Now, how is it  that we can be good ground? Isn-t that really what we
should try to learn from this parable? What is good ground?  Good ground
has been tilled carefully, and dug, and the clods of dirt have been
broken up, and it has been finely sifted, and fertilizer has been added
to it, and it has  been watered, and hedged round about so that animals
can not get in. It has been guarded, so not one can steal  the fruits it
will produce.   There is effort involved in having good ground. It does
not just ?happen¦.   

Last year, I tilled  a part of my property in order to plant. I did not
take care of it this year, and did not plant, and you can not even  TELL
that it was good ground, and it was VERY good ground after I had
finished with it,  but I didn-t take care of it, and so, it reverted
back. The same thing will happen  to us. If we do not take care of the
seed that is planted within us, we will revert back  to the type of man
we previously were, and we will allow the tares to grow in us. They will
choke us out. Even  if there are not tares to begin with v the seeds of
tares fly through the air, don-t they? So do the demons. The tares can
come  into good ground at any time, and they constantly must be plucked
out and uprooted with great care. It is very painful to tear out many
tares by  the way, especially thorns and thistles, because they are
sharp and they cut, and make us  bleed. Regardless, we must do this
work, and tear out these thorns and thistles if we are to be good
ground, if indeed, we have EVEN begun to be good ground! 

Our Savior says about those on the good ground, ?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.¦. There are those
words, that we  have trouble with ( I have trouble with them sometimes);
?Having heard the word, KEEP it and bring forth fruit with PATIENCE.¦
Patience is the most difficult word in our language. the Christian life
is  patience, endurance. He who  endures to the end will be saved. We
are just beginning  you know. And if indeed there is  some part of our
soul that is good ground, let us make the rest of  it good ground, by
careful labor, by backbreaking labor. And, while we are cleaning out
those parts of our souls, let us at  the same time pay attention to the
places we have cleared, so the tares do not come in, and choke us. 

How  are we to do this? This is a task beyond our abilities! The Apostle
tells us, in a marvelous way. He says, ?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.¦ Marvelous, magnificent words! May
they be true in our lives. May we say  that we no longer live, but
Christ lives in us.  May we live by faith, since this is the only  way
to accomplish our task. And what is our task?  It is to know Christ
isn-t it? Isn-t that what it said in the other gospel today? Our Savior
was praying  to His Heavenly father, shortly before He was going to go
to His  great passion for our salvation, and He said, ?And this is life
eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ,
whom thou hast sent.¦  

What is knowledge?  Knowledge is intimacy. Knowledge is - love. To know
God is to love Him, and give everything to Him. We see evidence of this
kind of love even in our own relationships. The love of a husband  for a
wife, or a child for his mother or father, and especially the love of an
infant, such perfect love. But just like a child who is not so intimate
with his  parents after he has done something wrong v he doesn-t show up
in the same room for a while, he doesn-t want to talk to them, he hangs 
his head, he has broken communion with them because of guilt --- so it
is with us, if  we do  not follow the Lord-s commandments. Then, we will
not be able to cry ?Abba, Father¦,  because we will be hanging our head
in shame. Or worse, I say most people  don-t do that, because they
cannot bear that kind of shame. Instead, they just leave God. They
become  choked with cares, or lusts or passions, with misplaced
priorities, or they become even worse  than that, and they wither away,
and have no faith whatsoever. That-s  what happens to most people. 

I hope that in our  church, if you forgive the expression, we beat the
?odds¦.  I hope that all of us will be good ground, but I know that the
only  way that this can be possibly true is if we struggle  -- apart and
together.  We must pray for one-another, help one-another, and then, in
our corner, in our closet, cry out to God each day, asking Him to help
us with whatever passions we have, with whatever sins we commit. Even if
we have  poor attitudes, and we desire to change our  attitudes.

Do you know that all sin, and even all action proceeds from thought?
Everything we do proceeds from thought. We decide to do something, and
then we do it, whether it is good or bad. So we must amend our thoughts.
That is why the Apostle Paul says, ?Finally, brethren, whatsoever things
are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever
things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any
praise, think on these things.¦ Train yourself! So now, if you want to
be good  ground, you must not add any trash to this ground. You must 
not add such things as impure thoughts, gossip, judging others. You  can
surely think of many other things that are within your heart that you do
and that are affecting your ground. And if ground is left alone, and
just walked  over, and not cared for, it becomes the wayside. It becomes
hard and the seed can no  longer penetrate, and that which is in it
dies, or never germinates. So we have a great labor  to do, my brothers
and sisters. We must continue to care for our ground  carefully. And we
must have patience. 

There are two sides to patience. One is that we must be patient with 
our position in life, with our status, with the amount of money we make,
with the difficulties  we are encountering. We must not curse God or say
that we should have this or we should have that. This is one kind of

There  is another kind v a very important kind of patience. Allow God to
work! It takes time for Him  to work. We do not know how much time we
have, but the time we have is what God has allotted to us. He is going 
to use every moment of that time to perfect us.  So, if we have trouble
with our sins, if there is something that we fall  into every day, then
EVERY day repent of it, and be patient! Be manly in spirit, and do not
be like a child  and run away from that sin, or rather, run away from
the knowledge of that sin, since it will always be with you until you
conquer it. Confront it! Confront it with  sword and with shield, and
with buckler, and with faith. Eventually, God will deliver you. It will
happen. It is guaranteed. If a man struggles to know to know God-s
commandments, He will reveal them. This is absolutely certain, because
in your struggling, you will  be doing His commandments. 

So, be patient, and cultivate your ground every day, every moment.
However, be careful not to judge yourself. This is a hard lesson, that
takes us a long  time to learn v to not judge ourselves, and look at the
sins we are doing and  to say we can never do better. Well, in some
things we do better, and in some things,  God help us and forgive us, we
have done worse, but the demons cannot take away from us that we  are
children of the Most High. We are able to cry ?Abba Father¦, only if we
are struggling to live in Christ. God lives within us. He enlightens us,
He helps us, even though we  are sinners. So, if He has come to  us and
has offered us FREELY His grace and mercy,  who are we, in our pride and
 arrogance to say ?that is not enough mercy or enough grace. I can-t
change¦?  Every man can change. Everyone can change  magnificently if he
only allows God to change him, but this takes time, a lot of time. I am
sure, you  are like me, and are very tired of your sins. They weigh us
down, they are like an anchor, and they cut and they hurt. And yet, in
some weird and perverted way, they are dear to us. They must be dear to
us in some way, but God understands, and will help us if we make an
effort, and if we are patient. 

None of us right now  are the wayside because we are at least trying to
be Christians. Some of us may be the rock, some may be thorns. God
knows, and this will  be all revealed in the end. Even if you have very
little soil  right now, and even if you are choked with  thorns and
cares,  God will help you to become good soil. He will help any man to
become good soil. He is no respecter of persons. Any man that desires
will be given, freely, God-s mercy. So take God-s  mercy and clasp it to
your hearts. Hold in to it and cultivate it, and be good soil, and God
will save you. 





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Page   PAGE  12  of   NUMPAGES  12 

The 21st Sunday after Pentecost

Page   PAGE  10  of   NUMPAGES  12 

Luke  8:5-15 - The Parable of the Sower

 This homily was transcribed from one given On Oct 14, 1996 according to
the church calendar, being the Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost,. and
the day appointed for the commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the
Seventh Ecumenical Council. There are some stylistic changes and minor
corrections made and several footnotes have been added, but otherwise,
it is essentially in a colloquial, ?spoken¦ style. It is hoped that
something in these words will help and edify the reader, but a sermon
read from a page cannot enlighten a soul as much as attendance and
reverent worship at the Vigil service, which prepares the soul for the
Holy Liturgy, and the hearing of the scriptures and the preaching of
them in the context of the Holy Divine Liturgy. In such circumstances
the soul is enlightened much more than when words are read on a page. 

 Galations 2:19-20

 John 17:1-13, read for the Sunday of the Fathers of the Seventh
Ecumenical Council, and other times during the year

 John 17:3

 Philippians 4:8

 Cf. Ephesians 6:13-17