Gospel Reflection by Dn. George Mora
The Gospel according to Mark 4:1-20
On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.” Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
Opening Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, direct our actions according to your good pleasure, that in the name of your beloved Son, we may abound in good works. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
In the beginning, of his ministry, Jesus would speak to the crowds of people, in parables. He preached this way so that it would be easier, for those he spoke to, to understand. He gave them examples that would mirror a way of life that was similar to the way that they lived. Several of them were either fishermen or workers of the land. So sowing seeds and cultivating plants gave practical sense to Jesus’ words.
As a Deacon, preaching is all about explaining the Gospels in a way that gives, each of us, a way to relate God’s word to our everyday way of life. How is God speaking to me? How can I take these words from God home with me to grow my relationship with my family, friends and those I come in contact with on an everyday basis. That is truly all of our responsibilities!
To explain himself, Jesus even quotes the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah was speaking to people who had hardened their hearts against the prophetic word he was sent to speak to them. Because their hearts were hardened, they would not have accepted and understood the Lord’s word even if he had presented it clearly. Yet, there were a few who listened with open hearts, and God’s word found good soil in their hearts that day. Jesus wasn’t saying he didn’t want anyone to understand. He was saying that even if he spoke clearly, many wouldn’t understand—because they didn’t want to. Yet the words he speaks to open hearts bears fruit, just as the parable says. The seed he is sowing is reaching everyone, but not every heart provides the good soil needed to bear fruit.
Several years ago, we wanted a lemon tree in our yard so that we would be able to always have this fruit at hand. So, we planted a small tree in our yard. We put it in a place where the sun would always shine on it. We watered it, fertilized it and waited. A lot of the spiritual life, like farming, is about waiting. Even when a seed falls into good soil, it doesn’t bear fruit immediately. It wasn’t until the third year that our tree began to bear fruit and now this little tree gives us hundreds of lemons each year, enough to share with others.
The Apostles and those in the crowd who had open hearts began “growing” in understanding and finally bore abundant fruit when the right conditions were available. The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost provided the right conditions. Like the Apostles, we too need the Holy Spirit to fully understand what Jesus taught.
My Lord Jesus, help me to understand your parables to give me a glimpse of you and our Father—of your goodness, your kindness, and your love for me. Lord, today by your grace I will be open to your word to me and to the Holy Spirit’s help in understanding it and using it to bear fruit—thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.
Action for the Day:
Make a call to a friend whom you haven’t seen or spoken to in a long time and renew good times and nurture that relationship.