Reflection for the fifth Sunday after Trinity

Reading: Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’ ‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’


One of the positive aspects of staying at home during the lockdown was having the time to learn new skills or rediscovering old ones. I know that a number of families began growing seeds and planting vegetable gardens, including some of the children from St. Patrick’s National School, and some photos were posted on the school blog. I wonder how much success they had and if their crops flourished.

Like some of our school pupils, I also got back into growing vegetables, something that I hadn’t done for a long time. It is too early to give you a verdict on how successful I have been – the potatoes, broad beans, cabbage and cauliflower seem to be growing away, although something has been eating holes in the cauliflower. However, I have had one disaster and that was my runner beans – basically, they just ended up as snail food! Such are the joys of gardening – we hope for nice healthy vegetables, but we also have to live with disappointment.

In the parable Jesus told about the farmer sowing seed in his field, we see differing results depending on where the seed landed. The good soil provided the ideal conditions for growth and produced a really healthy and abundant crop, but there was also disappointment when some seed landed on the hard path, stony ground or among weeds where it either failed or did badly.

Jesus told this parable to show how people respond in different ways to his message of God’s kingdom. The ideal is that people should be receptive, like the good soil. These people listen to His words and they think about them so they come to understand fully and then put it into practice in their lives. They produce good fruit by living the way God intends us to.

In our Lord’s time, there were some who responded positively to His message, but also many who failed to for different reasons – and that is still the case. In the parable, where some seed fell on the trodden path, it was eaten by birds and so, it was impossible for it to succeed. Jesus said, for some people, the evil one snatches away what is sown in their heart. These are the people who reject the message out of hand, which is more prevalent these days than in previous generations as less people profess any religious belief or have any time for faith. That is a serious challenge to all of our churches today.

Then there is the rocky ground, representing the people who hear the message, receive it with joy but who have no root, and lack the staying power when any trouble in life comes along, so they just give up. For those of us who teach the faith, whether in church, school or as parents seeking to bring up children in the faith, this reminds us of the need to nurture faith, help it to develop, grow and become strong. We cannot do enough to help our young people to grow and mature in their faith.

And then there are the weeds and thorns – any gardener’s nightmare where the young plants are just choked and have no chance to grow. Jesus said this represents the people who hear the word, but the cares of the world crowd it out and faith has no chance to develop. He specifically mentioned the lure of wealth – materialism and our consumer culture present serious obstacles to faith. It is so easy to be distracted from the things that really matter in life and become obsessed by money, possessions and things that have no lasting value.

As people of faith, we need to continually be nurtured and strengthened by the words of Christ so that we can grow and bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. Let us also be mindful of the responsibility of sowing the seeds of faith and helping our young people to grow and mature in their faith.

Collect for the fifth Sunday after Trinity

Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church
is governed and sanctified:
Hear our prayer, which we offer for all your faithful people,
that in their vocation and ministry
they may serve you in holiness and truth
to the glory of your name;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayers of intercession

God our Father,
We give you thanks that you give increase
to our sowings, our work and our planting.
You are the giver of life in all its abundance.
Help us to put our faith in your goodness
and when we have sown, to trust the increase in you.

Lord hear us: Lord graciously hear us.

We give you thanks for those who have taught us the faith
and sowed the seed of the gospel in our lives.
We ask your blessing on your church
and all who teach and preach the message of your kingdom.
Bless this diocese, its people and clergy, and Pat, our bishop.
We pray for all who teach the faith to young people,
in schools, Sunday Club, youth and children’s groups.
Help us to be faithful in sowing the seed of your word.

Lord hear us: Lord graciously hear us.

We pray for the rulers of nations, for our country and our Government.
Guide them to be wise in the use and management of resources for the welfare of all people.
We pray for our health service and for all who bear responsibility
for public health policy as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We pray that measures taken will prevent the spread of the virus.
Protect and guard all frontline workers in their work.

Lord hear us: Lord graciously hear us.

We pray for our homes and families, that they may be places of nurture and care.
Support and guide parents in rearing children and help them
to sow the seeds of faith in their children’s lives.
We pray for all families facing worry or uncertainty
and for all who struggle with unemployment or financial stress.
Help them to place their trust in you.

Lord hear us: Lord graciously hear us.

We pray for all who are ill in body or mind.
We remember all who have suffered mental ill health through isolation.
We pray for all who are ill, undergoing treatment or awaiting surgery.
Grant them your strength, peace and healing.

Lord hear us: Lord graciously hear us.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with us all evermore. Amen

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