“But that on the good ground are they which in an honest and good heart,
having heard the word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience.”
The gospel which orders our understanding on this day is the parable of the sower and the seed. It focuses our thoughts on the quality of the ground upon which the Word of God is sown. The cultivation of the ground, however, immediately recalls us to the story of the Fall in this morning’s first lesson. The ground is cursed. Adam, who signifies our humanity collectively and individually speaking, is told “cursed is the ground because of you, in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.” The ground is cursed because Adam and Eve succumbed to the beguiling wisdom of the serpent and thus lost the ground of their standing with God (pun intended). The ground of creation becomes the place of our alienation from God.
In a delightful image, the Lord God is said to have “walked in the garden in the cool of the day”, but where were we? We had hidden ourselves from his presence in the fearful beginnings of an awareness of our self-willed separation from him. It is important to understand something of what this means.
The story of the Fall seeks to explain the origin of sin and evil, of suffering and death. It locates the problem not in the material universe but in the disobedience of our humanity. As disobedience, it is an act of the will against what is known as good. Creation as a whole and in its individual parts is emphatically and unambiguously declared to be “good”; in fact, “very good.” The commandment given to us – it is only to humans that a commandment can be given – is also by definition good. It is implicitly known as good.