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The Word on the Week

The Ploughing Championships

This annual farming bonanza, the largest outdoor event of its kind in Europe, got more than its fair share of rain during the three days. The middle day was subjected to a deluge which would have terminated any normal show but with the fighting spirit of Anna May McHugh and a multitude of water pumps the grounds were open for business on the third day!
Anna May has become a legend in her lifetime. She first joined the organisation in 1951 becoming its Managing Director in 1973 – a position which she still holds. Back in 1931 the first event cost £9 to host. This year the costs will exceed €5 million! Her biography comes out this year and is aptly called “Queen of the Plough”.
Our new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, is an urban man, unfamiliar with country ways. When his motorcade of 4 x4’s entered the parking field, in the words of our humorous journalist, Miriam Lord, “as the vehicles turned into the top corner of the field, the large media contingent moved as one towards him, like a herd of cows heading for milking!” Highly descriptive but somewhat less that flattering to her colleagues in journalism.
The event has grown from its original farm focus to showcase what rural Ireland can do. It has developed a commercial side where deals for the latest in farm machinery are done. This year just under €36.5 million was spent during the three days of the event! This generates a tax take of over €6.6 million for the National Exchequer!
For all this we depend on the fertility of the soil.

Jesus was familiar with its importance. In his parable of the soils he lists four types; the compacted soil of the roadway, the arid stony ground with shallow soil, the thorny ground where the seed was choked by the weeds and the good soil which from one seed could produce heads of grain thirty, sixty or one hundred seeds in return. Clearly it paid to look after the soil!
Jesus explained the parable. The seed is the word. It is always good. It is the soil which is the problem. The first soil was a hardened roadway. The seed did not penetrate and the birds (Satan) snatched it away.
The second soil receives the seed with joy – immediate growth. But the stony ground doesn’t produce root growth and it cannot survive the storms of life.
The third soil already has thorns growing on it. The seed roots but cannot compete with these emblems of sin. Jesus names two sins, the cares of the world and secondly the deceitfulness of riches rob the farmer of a harvest.
The fourth soil has been prepared to receive the seed. It takes root and yields a harvest corresponding to each seeds potential (St Matthew Chapter 13 verses 3/23).

We are the soil. The fourth soil is different. The difference is it understands what is happening when the word is proclaimed. This understanding equates to a conversion so out of one seed comes many as the word of God takes root in prepared hearts.
Which soil are you?