In the reading today from the Gospel according to St. Luke, we hear the Parable of the Sower, who went out into the field to sow his seed. Our Lord Jesus Christ even gives the interpretation to His disciples: the seed is the word of God, and the Sower is the Son of God. Some seeds fall on the path, and are carried away by the demons. Some seeds fall among the rocks and sprouts, but ultimately withers when things get tough. Some seed falls among weeds and sprouts, but gets choked out by the cares and concerns of life. Only the seed that falls in good soil bears fruit. Yet, although 3/4s of the seed fails, that which falls in good soil brings forth returns of 30, or 60, or 100 times again what was planted.
As I was preparing for today’s homily, I came across this story that really struck home. And like all good stories, it starts out…Once upon a time, there was a farmer who whistled a love song as he worked out in his cornfield. He whistled! He wasn’t just whistling while he worked; he was whistling to the field, serenading it, telling the field that how much he loved the land. The farmer whistled while he cleared the field of stones and stumps. He whistled while he tilled the soil, turned it over and over again, breaking up clumps, making it ready for planting. Then he planted the seeds and fertilized the field.
As the summer grew warmer, as the corn stalks began to grow, the farmer sprayed for bugs and weeds. He built a corn hopper so that he’d have a place to store his crop. He went out and rented machinery for the harvest. When the days got dry and there was no rain, the farmer watered the field. And so the corn kept growing. All the while the farmer whistled his love song to his field of corn.
And yet., the field only brought forth rotten corn. All of it, every ear of corn on every single stalk was just plain rotten. Mushy kernels. Missing kernels. Rotten husks. A field of rotten corn. Not one piece salvageable.
So now, judge between the field and the farmer. What more could the farmer have done for his cornfield? When he worked so hard to care for his crop, why did it only bring forth rotten corn?
What else can the farmer do but plow the field under? Who could blame him for tearing out every rotten stalk of corn? What keeps the farmer from just selling the whole field to a developer to plant a Wal-Mart or a Sam’s Club?
My brothers and sisters in Christ, we are the cornfield, and God is the farmer.
God has set us up as His children. He has been whistling His love song to us from the time He planted us in our mother’ wombs, telling us that He made us and loves us and cares for us and wants us to have a relationship with Him. Like the farmer with his cornfield, God has done everything He can to care for us and create faith in our hearts. He sent His Holy Spirit to us. He watered us in Holy Baptism. He planted the seed of faith and helped that seed to grow. He fed us through both His Word and through Holy Communion. He drove away the demons that would have otherwise torn us apart. And all the while God whistled His love song to us.
And yet, this field only brought forth rotten corn. All of us, each and every one of us, at times are just plain rotten. Sinful hearts that forget about God. Even when God has brought us into His faith, made us to be followers of His Son, even when God has put us here in the church, we still bring forth rotten corn, bad fruit, bad actions. We don’t live like children of God.
So now, judge between the field and the farmer, judge between God and us. What more could God do for us? While God works so hard to care for us, why do we keep sinning?
Wouldn’t God be right to plow us under, judge us to eternal death? To take away His protection and let us be destroyed by Satan? To walk away from us and stop giving us His Word, stop encouraging and building up our faith? To stop His Spirit from working in our hearts? Who could blame the farmer from not wanting to deal with a rotten field? Who could blame God for not wanting to deal with a rotten people?
But our God is a patient God, and instead of walking away from us, what does He do? He sings to us, for we read in the book of Isaiah, “Sing about a faithful vineyard: I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it. I am not angry. I’ll battle against the evil briars and thorns that try to infest my vineyard. Better than that, let the briars and thorns make peace with me.” (Isaiah 27: 2-5)
God looks out over us, a sinful people, and He says that despite our bad actions, that He will guard us with His whole life. He will battle the devil that tries to infest our lives, that tries to lead us astray. He will fight the battle against His enemies, those people who deny Him or reject Him or teach falsely about Him, but all the while He hopes to make peace with those people, to help those people know about His love. He loves us His people no matter how sinful we are, and He has done everything in His power to save us from death.
God stays with us. God stays in this rotten field with all of us and keeps trying to bring forth good fruit from a bad crop. God stays with us and says that one day He’ll make us completely new again, He’ll plant us again to live for eternity and we’ll serve Him and bring forth good corn, sweet corn. God loves us and gives us a new spiritual life, a new spiritual life that comes through His Son.
And so as we go forward this day as Disciples of Christ, there are two things that we can do: First, is to share God’s love for us with one another by telling each other “I love you.” Tell your brothers and sisters in Christ, tell your family, tell your friends, tell strangers that you meet, tell everyone that should be here, but isn’t - tell them that you love them despite the fact that they do things to hurt you. Second, is to pray. If we pray together as a community for one another, if we support one another in prayer and friendship, only then can we raise each other to the level where God wants us to be. God has shown us the depths of love that He loves us despite how rotten we are. So God calls on us to go and love one another in that same way, to love each other despite our faults. Yes, you’re surrounded by rotten corn, but God loves that rotten corn around you. So say to one another, “I love you.” That is my prayer for all of us this day. Amen.