Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.

Matthew 11:20

Even after the miracles, the healings and the exorcisms took place, the people did not change their ways. They rejected Jesus, his message and his teachings. It is a recurring theme in the Biblical narrative.

A messenger of the Lord appears, bringing messages from beyond; of how to lead one’s life and of what lays beyond. When they–the people–do not heed the warnings, they have to contend with the curse which they have brought upon themselves.

It is a difficult to narrative to follow; not because it took place over two millennia ago, but because our world doesn’t seem to have ‘evolved’. We doubt the messengers who are sent to us. Even when we have proof, we demand more proof. Even when we personally witness Life’s unexplainable miracles, we remain cynical and unrepentant.

Change is not something that comes to humans easily–and yet all day long, I hear people crying out for something to ‘change’. How can change occur if we are set in our ways?

We just can’t seem to change, no matter how much we crave it or cry out for it. Why? I found the answer in the Gospel of Matthew.

The Destiny of the Sower’s Seed

Jesus, as a master storyteller, often spoke in parables. In Matthew 13:3, he tells the tale of the seed that bears fruit and the seed that doesn’t. He tells of four different journeys that the sower and the seed may embark upon.

The seed’s desire is to actualise its destiny–much like any of us. We are all seeking to actualise the latent potential that exists within us. Jesus’ parable reminds us that the destiny of the seed is entirely contingent on where the seed is planted.

“Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.”

Have we learnt to cherish the potential that is within us? Do we allow it to fall to the road where the birds can come and gobble it up?

The seed is a symbol for a future that is yet to be. The journey begins with valuing that seed that exists within us. A seed is pure potential yet to be actualised. If we carelessly scatter it–whether accidentally or otherwise–the seed will be eaten before it ever has the chance to fulfil its potential.

Alas! That is the potential of that particular seed.

“Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.”

The second seed has a short life span. It enjoyed a short-run, but did not last for it had no roots. This happens often as well. We didn’t scatter the seed in the right place. So while we did get to enjoy some short-lived success, we didn’t grow anything that would sustain us in the long-run.

Perhaps the seed could have been more if the sun didn’t scorch it. It is a stark reminder that even when we have had some success, it may not last. Our true potential is thus not actualised to the fullest.

We lived fast… and died young.

“Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.”

Oh, I can almost hear you sighing as you read this poignant sentence. These days, we call it ‘a toxic environment’.

A seed, as I mentioned earlier, is pure potential. If it is given away to thorns, it will never grow. It will not even be ‘eaten’ as was the case with the birds. It will only be stifled and suffocated. That is the thing with thorns. They vine around and choke the life force.

A toxic environment will never allow any potential to be actualised. In fact, it won’t even allow a glimmer of it to surface.

“And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

And finally, some of your potential–your inner seeds–fell on good soil and managed to yield a harvest. This is what we call a harvest or a good investment. This one multiplies itself many times over. This is growth. Not slow growth or fast growth. But the kind of growth that is sustainable and that will sustain itself for a long time to come.

This is the ideal state for the seed. It has fulfilled its potential.

A Frustrated Leader

The leaders of the Bible are not perfect people, but through their wisdom–that was recorded down by the scribes–their ageless teachings come down us. They are simple in the analogies used, but they tell us the simple yet hard truths of life.

I started this article with how Jesus had denounced the cities where the miracles had occurred because the people there were unrepentant. Can we change people? Do we need to plant them in good soil so that they will change and actualise their potential?

For some, the answer is yes. A change of environment does wonders and they begin to actualise some of their latent potential. For others, the answer is no. Even when you change their environment, their potential is never actualised because they are the thorn. They recreate that same toxicity wherever they go.

I’ve had this thought at times that with ‘good soil’ miracles can happen. But the seed has to have it in it to begin with. Then, the good soil and a good sower–can make magic happen.

Saint Matthew and the Angel by Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo

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