On the hillside above the Sea of Galilee is the village of Korazin. It is a ruin today, but what remains, of houses and the synagogue, indicates that Korazin was a wealthy village. Its wealth was built on its good soil, and the quality of the grain that was grown there. Korazin was known throughout the Jewish world for the quality of its grain.
The gospels tell us that Jesus performed many miracles at Korazin, but that the people there did not respond to his message, his urgent invitation to respond to the coming-near of God’s kingdom. Korazin had good soil, but it was poor soil for the gospel.
Jesus had made his base at Capernaum, on the lake. But he told his parables and performed miracles in the surrounding towns and villages, and it is inconceivable that he wouldn’t have told the parable of the sower in Korazin: it is a parable made for the place.
The land is steep, and crops were grown on communal, terraced fields. Sowing took place by scattering seed liberally across the field. Some seed fell on the path. Paths were important: they gave villagers access to their particular patch of land, across their neighbours’ land. Without paths, people would have trampled any which way, and much more of the soil would be pressed down too hard. Good paths made for good neighbourly relations. Paths were important; but they weren’t productive soil.
In places, the soil was thin, the bedrock very close to the surface. And surface bedrock was important: it provided the natural foundation on which to build the walls that formed the terracing, that created level ground from which the soil would not be washed away. Rocky ground was important; but it wasn’t productive soil.
Around the edges of the fields, thorns grew. And thorns were important: not everywhere was as blessed as Korazin – subsistence farming was the norm, and people could hardly afford their labour to come to nothing because the crop was eaten by animals before it could be harvested. Thorns kept animals at bay. Thorns were important; but they weren’t productive soil.
So here is my question. What is important in your life (I don’t mean, what do we think is important, but isn’t really; I mean things that really are important) but has been allowed to get in the way of our being good soil?
What good things – relationships, foundational things (like church involvement), legitimate concerns – have somehow prevented us from producing a harvest that has fed the wider community in which we live?
The summer months are a good time to stop, step back from the good things were are involved in, and reassess; to repair paths and walls and even thorns where they have fallen into disrepair; and to take note where the good soil is, where we want most of the seed scattered in our lives to fall.