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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ The Reign of God: Our Life-long Quest

Matthew’s gospel recalls much of the message and mission of Jesus in the form of discourses, teaching that connected Jesus with his disciple and with crowd. At the core of his gospel, are a series of these discourses. Chapter 13 of the gospel relates a number of parables, stories told by Jesus, intended to set forth the reign of God and its meaning.

One of the parables is the story of a farmer who sowed seed in his field. (Matt.13:4-9). He did this by broadcasting the seed, i.e. by throwing it about by hand. As the parable unfolds we see that the scattered seed fell on a variety of soils, some good, some not so good, some very poor. The result was as varied as the types of soil.

One of the remarkable things about this story as a parable of the kingdom is that we can read it with a variety of views. We can focus on the seed that is cast. We can pay most attention to the soil on which it falls. We can emphasize the varied result of the sowing or we can read it from the perspective of the sower who broadcasts the seed, rather than choosing where he sows. Each of these readings can be related to the Reign of God in a particular way. Parables are often this way. So what does this story offer us about the Reign of God?

Let’s look first at the sower. The sower casts the seed generously in all directions. He does not choose the ground, but simply throws the seed around indiscriminately. The sower makes no pre-judgment about where the seed might do well or not do well. For the sower, the seed should be in all ground. The Reign of God, like God’s love is unconditionally offered. God does not present it to some and not to others. God gives to all. As the sower, God seeks out each and every person on earth. All are to receive the seed that is offered.

At the same time, we are rather different soils. Our responses may be quite varied, but what is common to all of us is that we are seeking the seed. Part of our very nature is that we are seekers. In common we have some basic needs – air, water, food among others. We also have a basic need for seeking contentment and fulfillment. Human beings seem to quest or search constantly. One of the sources of meaning and fulfillment rests in what we Christians, as well as Jews and Moslems and so many others, call our relationship with God – our spirituality. We crave spirituality, even when we do not use the term. We are seekers by nature.

It seems that God recognizes this. The reign is offered to all, even if we are not well-prepared or the most able of recipients. Able or not, we all are seekers and the quest that we are on is ultimately for the Reign of God that Jesus announced in his message and revealed in the actions of his mission. It is God’s free gift.

The very person of Jesus, human and divine, is God’s way of reaching out to our deep longing, our search or quest to make sense of life. What does it all mean? The beginnings of a response to this basic human question lie for us in the person of Jesus and more fully in the Reign of God that comes close as Jesus proclaims it in word and action. A world in which the Reign of God is planted is a world in which there is life more than death, healing more than hurting, harmony more than division, peace more than war. Ultimately the Reign of God is the grail or the goal of the quest on which every human being embarks in life.

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