In continuing our review of the parable of the sower (), the path represents hostile prejudice against the message of Christ.
The phrase used to describe this response (i.e. trampled on) also appears in Jesus' warning to withhold precious spiritual truth from those who demonstrate little capacity to appreciate it: 'Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.' (Matt. 7:6)
So, the church is called to deliver God's invitation for all mankind to repent and be reconciled to Him through Jesus. However, we are not called to brow-beat those who are neither ready to give the gospel a fair hearing, nor prepared to follow the truth wherever it leads.
Despite this, in my younger Christian life, I hated the idea of giving non-believers the last word when they reacted with scorn or hostility on hearing the Good News.
I had a lot to learn from the words of St. Paul, who explained: 'And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.' (2 Tim. 2:24)
You see, there will always be people who resort to clever sounding counter-arguments in order to justify their rejection of Jesus' moral authority over their lives.
For instance, I've talked to countless atheist friends, who, at the very mention of Jesus, recite the supposedly 'water-tight' arguments developed by their favourite high-profile scientists.
Yet, Jesus explained this behaviour in terms of the underlying spiritual condition: 'Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.' (Luke 8:12)
So, the devil is at work whenever we meet people who are incapable of giving a fair hearing to Jesus' message.
St. Paul got it right when he declared: 'If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.' (2 Cor. 4:3,4)
We are not called to badger those whose hearts are as unyielding to God's call as the path in the parable.
Instead, we are called to pray for God to lift the veil of wilful ignorance before it's too late.