Let anyone with ears listen

“And [Jesus] 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.” (Matthew 13:3-4)

Thus begins the ‘Parable of the Sower’ – a story Jesus told about a farmer who carefully ploughs his field, plants seed in neat rows, covers them over with soil, fertilizes and waters them. Actually … no, that’s a different farmer. This farmer throws seed all over the place! A lot of seed falls on the path, some on the rocks, some amongst the weeds, and some lands in good soil where it takes root.

I don’t know a lot about farming, even though I manage a farm. My farm doesn’t grow anything though (not plants, at any rate). Would I do a lot better if I started hurling seeds around the way Jesus’ farmer does? He throws seed everywhere!

Johnny was a young man I worked with many years ago. I knew he had a history with heroin but he assured me that he was no longer using and he appeared to be clean. I gave him a bed in our ‘detox room’, which was attached to the back of the rectory where my family was living but sealed off from the rest of the house. I also helped Johnny get a job washing cars. Everything seemed to be going well at first, but then things started disappearing, and then we had a break-in to the house where various heirlooms and pieces of jewellery were stolen. There was only one suspect.

Johnny was horrified that I suspected him. “Do you really think I could do this to you after all the kindness you have shown me?” he asked. He cried. He pleaded his innocence. I believed him. Two days later the police came by and lifted the mattress of the bed where he’d been sleeping. All the receipts from the pawn shops were there – hundreds of them. Some of those receipts were for stuff he’d stolen from us but there were lots of others too.

Johnny is typical of the guys we worked with in Dulwich Hill between 1990 and the early 2000’s. Many stole from us. Many threatened me. I drew a line though with threats against my family. When that happened, I cut them off. Was that arbitrary? No one ever did carry through on their threats. Even so, I wanted to err on the side of protecting my children. I don’t’ know if I got the balance right. What I do know is that every time I cut someone off, there was always someone else there to take their place. We kept throwing out the good seed. Most of it just bounced along the path.

I think it works according to the 80/20 rule (the so-called Pareto Principle). 80% of your efforts yield very little result – barely 20% of what you were hoping for. Conversely, around one in five seeds sown (20%) actually takes root and flowers, yielding 80% of the joy. You might think then that the way to improve the odds would be to focus on reserving your seeds for good soil. In other words, only invest energy into people who show potential. In truth though, the sower in the parable is no fool. The sower knows that it’s not always easy to tell the good soil from the bad, nor to distinguish between flowers and weeds. Jesus’ sower will produce a full crop, not by being overly careful about where he sows but by throwing out a lot of seed!

Around five years after Johnny’s stay with us, I saw him again. He turned up on my doorstep. He told me that he’d been driving around and around the block, trying to summon up the courage to come and see me. He’d just been released from prison. He said that the experience of stealing from me had really affected him and that he’d hit rock bottom. He’d subsequently found his faith again and was trying to make a fresh start. That was a long time ago and I haven’t seen him since. Even so, perhaps that time a seed did take root?

“Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” (Matthew 13:8-9)

Our Sunday Eucharist

We had another very special Sunday Eucharist last weekend. Thank you to Andrew Logan and to Father Mark for joining me on the panel. The recording is below.

This week I’m looking forward to having both Karyn Hemming and Rob Gilland join me on the panel, with Father Ola sharing his pre-recorded thoughts on the Epistle. Tune in from around 11.45 am on Sunday via thesundayeucharist.com or via Facebook , YouTubeTwitter or LinkedIn.

Let me work your corner

Thank you once again to all of you who support Fighting Fathers Ministries through your prayers and through monthly financial contributions. If you’re not contributing financially and you can afford to, it would be greatly appreciated if you could go to Patreon.com and sign up to either:

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Every dollar helps keep the wheels turning – the websites, the newsletters, the broadcasts, the boxing club and the bush camp. Sign up at Patreon.com.

What’s On?

You’ll notice that my scheduled boxing match is missing from the list above. I was getting into my car yesterday to head out and secure a fistful of tickets for the event when the promoter called me. Once again, my opponent has pulled out.

That’s three opponents now who have withdrawn from this event. What is it about me that is repulsing my opponents? I was counting on this event to bring in extra revenue. Well … it’s in God’s hands. You watch your seed bounce along the path and all you can do is dig deep and have another go. The seed-bag isn’t empty yet.

Let me close this week with some more recommended links:
That will do for today. Keep me in your prayers as I do you.



About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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