The WORD in Other Words by Fr Leonardo Mercado SVD (Philippines)
Wednesday Week 16 Ordinary Time, Ex 16:1-5, 9-15, Mt 13:1-9
The parable of the seed and the soil is a paradigm that works across religions. Asian Rainbow, an inter-religious organization which began in 1995, adopted the paradigm. As founding members, it had Bishop Julio Labayen for Christians, Ven. Santikaro Bhikkhu for the Buddhists. and Sidhartha for the Hindus.
The seed represents the human spirit. Each person has the potential to grow, nurtured by home, family, activities, studies and the like, in a ‘soil‘ that can have different levels: cultural, societal, structural.
Within all persons, peoples and cultures is a seed of spirituality, divinity and the deepest humanity that can never be corrupted.
The seed is planted within specific times and places surrounded by particular languages, value systems, customs, cultures, social structures, ecologies and religious traditions. But where there is poverty, a consumeristic life style, religious discrimination, racial injustice, the individual cannot grow. Where the “soil” has structures of capitalism, lust as in sex tours, racism, hatred, anger, the individual cannot thrive.
Unjust structures may give privileges to organized religion which often does not criticize these structures, for example, when Christian states give privileges to churchmen or Buddhist countries give privileges to Buddhist monks.
Besides the seed and the soil, there is a third factor: Number One. Depending upon one‘s religious structure, Number One may be Allah, God, Nibbana (Nirvana). Just as all plants yearn for the sun, all humans yearn for Number One. They have the inborn search for meaning, for self—transcendence, and the gift of service. The search for meaning goes beyond human limitation. All these factors lead to wholeness in order to attain Number One.
If Buddhists stress wisdom (knowledge from Dukkha), says Ven. Santikaro Bhikku. Christians stress faith. Both, however, are close to each other.