We cast the seed, ‘God gives the increase’

The world’s first building designed from scratch to serve as a broadcasting center was Broadcasting House, the head-quarters of the BBC in London, which opened in 1932. The back wall of its entrance hall features a huge sculpture by celebrated British stone-carver Eric Gill with a decidedly Christian inspiration.

Archbishop J. Peter SartainThe Sower depicts a farmer reaching into a sack of seed slung at his side, preparing to “cast it broadly.”

We are accustomed to using the word “broadcast” in reference to radio or television, and that has been its primary meaning for the past 100 years. However, the earliest use of the word referred to the sowing of seed in all directions, an image Jesus used in the parable of the sower: “Hear this! A sower went out to sow…” In its early days, the BBC was permeated with the aspiration of sowing the good seed of Christian teaching as far as radio waves would carry it.

The image is an apt one for this new archdiocesan magazine, Northwest Catholic. For the first time, a monthly archdiocesan publication will be sent to every Catholic household in Western Washington with a simple goal: to cast the seeds of Christ broadly, into everyone’s home, to inspire, teach, sow, grow and lead along the Way who is Jesus. In our day, many voices are raised, and many seeds are cast, in every direction; and more than anyone could have imagined in 1932, they reach around the world by means of media and technologies at just about everyone’s fingertips. Some of them are good, but many of them are not.

Jesus once told a parable about a farmer who went out to sow seed. Since in those days sowing often preceded plowing, some seed fell on the path, where birds came and feasted; some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil or moisture and scorched in the sun; some fell among thorns which choked it. But some fell on rich soil, where it produced beyond all expectation. The seed is God’s word, said Jesus, and though in the sowing it often falls on unsuitable ground and sprouts for just a while, it will nonetheless eventually yield a rich harvest — because God is the sower, and his seed does his work. When the earth is plowed and ready — when a human heart is humble and receptive — the joy of the harvest is great.

This magazine seeks to reach deeply into the soil that is our hearts, our lives, with the only seed that has the power to produce a good crop and bring us peace: the seed that is the word of God. It is important to note that in Jesus’ parable, the seed always does what it is supposed to do: It germinates wherever it is cast. It’s as if he said, “See the power of my word! It will unfailingly sprout! It will always do its work! My seed is trustworthy, my seed is hearty!”

When I examine my life, I quickly realize that though I want to welcome God’s word and let it grow within, sometimes, for a variety of reasons, I resist it. Perhaps at those times I am not ready to be challenged, or I hesitate to see how much I depend on his word, or I unwittingly assume I have a better idea, or I let any manner of things harden my heart. Jesus knows us well, and he recognizes that our soil can at times be stubborn, dry, shallow, rocky or thorny. But he also knows the power of his word, and nothing will stop him from casting it our way; nothing will stop him from saying to us, “Come follow me,” wherever and in whatever condition he finds us.

It is our hope that this magazine will inspire Catholics across the archdiocese to receive God’s word, help them receive it with joy even when obstacles stand in the way, and offer stories of people like us who have experienced what God does when we let him go to work in us.

It is thus with trust in Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and with the conviction that all of us hunger for his word, that we inaugurate Northwest Catholic.

At the bottom of The Sower, Eric Gill inscribed the words Deus incrementum dat — “God gives the increase.” He was referring to the image of the sower as used by St. Paul: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)

God will cause the growth for us, too. His seed will yield a rich harvest in us, too. His word will do his work as we “cast it broadly.” Welcome to Northwest Catholic!

August 22, 2013

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain

Send your prayer intentions to Archbishop Sartain’s Prayer List, Archdiocese of Seattle, 710 Ninth Ave., Seattle, WA 98104.

Website: www.seattlearchdiocese.org