As for [the seed that] was sown among the thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful (Mt. 13:22).
In the parable of the sower, Christ intimates that there are four responses to the hearing of the Word of the Kingdom, three negative and one positive. Three of the responses to the Word are responses that are rooted in the heart of man and therefore bear no fruit, and one response in rooted in the work of God and therefore bears much fruit. In each of the negative responses there is the proclamation of the Word (i.e. the sowing of the seed), and in each there is a different enemy that destroys the effectiveness of the Word.
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness (Rm. 12:4-8).
The language that is used to describe the elect of God is that of single person, viz. a bride, though, by his grace, the elect of God are far more in number than one, single person. The purpose is multi-faceted. One facet is the picture of God’s love for his elect, demonstrated most clearly in shadow of healthy human marriage where one man and one woman are joined in a life-long intimacy that transcends any other relationship in human experience. Another facet, which is the that of the apostle presently, is the creation of the image of the Church as one body, who though comprised of many members are one single body performing distinct and vital functions. Each one in the Body might, pictorially, fulfill the function of a heart, another a hand, and another a foot, but each member is dependent upon the whole of the others to function properly.