To His listeners Christ’s description would have been instantly recognisable.
He was illustrating His teaching with everyday events, through the language of work, of weather, of nature. Jesus knows that if He spoke in the dry language of the priests, of the Temple or the synagogue, the people would not hear what He had to say.
Jesus was a country boy and much of His teaching involved the use of symbols taken from nature; He spoke the people’s own kind of language, and so they listened to Him.
It’s easy to become distracted when people speak in a way that doesn’t relate to us, to our needs and our lives; to listen but not absorb what is being said, to miss the crucial heart of the message, which is what happened to many of Jesus’ listeners.
Some listened but didn’t want to know. Some heard but didn’t understand. Some listened and heard but where too frightened of the challenge to respond.
Jesus prepared the ground in the way in which a person of the earth would do, with symbols which spoke to the experience and hearts of the listeners.
He valued each person in that crowd and when we value someone, we take the trouble to approach them at their own level. The harvest of the response we reap is worth every moment of effort.
And what of us?
We frequently fail to listen to one another, let alone to Christ.
We avert our eyes; we use distracted sounds like “Mmmm”.
Interrupting, not allowing others to finish. Do we really listen?
How often do we ask people how they are because of social convention rather that wanting the truth and the detail of their answer?
If someone listens to us attentively, we feel valued. When someone speaks to us in our own language it feeds and enhances the person that we are, making us grow in confidence and self-worth.
This is how Christ listens to us and how we need to listen to Him, not only in our prayers but as He speaks to us through others.
By this caring we nurture the seed of His love which develops and grows into part of His great harvest.
But if our soil is thin, what do we do?
We pray, asking for wisdom. By a good deed, a kind word, sincere contriteness for our weaknesses and failures, by paying close attention to the ordinary things in our daily lives.
By being fully present to each person, hearing his or her spoken and unspoken needs. To face and not avoid unpalatable aspects for fear of them troubling us; it involves rising to the challenge of being fully human in the way which Jesus made transparently clear.
God is with us in the great and the small events of our lives. He speaks to us in gentle tones and in a language we can understand.
Listen to Him; He is the sower, the seed and the food for growth.
Relax, God has it all under control.