“May God bless you with careless handfuls of love.”
I love this blessing. It is easy to remember and covers a wide range of situations, and there is a link with today’s gospel reading from Matthew 13:1-9.
The parable of the Sower
The clue is in the title. The sower. But usually we read it as the parable of the different types of soil. It is then all about us. The pressure is on for us to be the good soil. To yield at least thirty-fold whilst we admire those who can manage sixty-fold…..as for those who yield a hundredfold – wow!
What though if this really is about the sower? From our limited perspective -few of us are farmers and we don’t usually chuck seeds around in our gardens -we don’t think this sower knows what they are doing. Such poor technique (whisper it, such waste). The seed is scattered at random -along the path, on rocky ground, among thorns. Luckily, some fell on good soil.
We are invited to use our imagination. We can picture the sower’s method- broadcasting- the seeds in a pouch, a handful taken at a time and scattered as the sower walks along. Do we imagine the sower carefully counting out the seeds beforehand rather than simply scooping up as many as possible? No! This is an indication of abundance, of prodigality, there are more than enough seeds, enough to carelessly scatter them. If we then think of the sower representing God that is really saying something to us, abundance, enough and to spare.
If we have turned away from the common idea that we are the different types of soil, where might we fit in? Suppose that if the sower is like God then we might be like the seeds. lf the picture of the sower can be related to ‘God’s careless handfuls of love’ then how does that work? That is to ask how does God’s love become a reality? One way would be if God’s servants are scattered around -some landing along the path, or on rocky ground, or amongst thorns. In other words in difficult circumstances, having to cope with what life has thrown at us and at other people, yet still trying to be kind and loving, trying to grow and blossom, and trying to enable others to grow and blossom. In difficult circumstances a yield of thirty-fold would be praiseworthy indeed.
Life can be difficult, it so easily appears to be a completely random affair, like seeds being scattered. Such a mixture of joy and sorrow. Growing older we can become discouraged, what do we have to show for our life? Not even thirty-fold.
The words of the blessing are intriguing – ‘God’s careless handfuls of love’. The sower has more than enough, abundance, blessings -yet needs human beings to be the agents of that love.
‘Let anyone with ears listen’. A reminder of the blessing we feel when someone listens to us, the blessing we can offer to others.
Teach us good Lord to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost;
to fight and not to heed the wounds;
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing we do your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen