Gospel: Mark 4:1-20
Again, Jesus began to teach by the lake; but such a large crowd gathered about him, that he got into a boat and sat in it on the lake, while the crowd stood on the shore. He taught them many things through parables. In his teaching he said, “Listen! The sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some of the seed fell along a path; and the birds came and ate it up. Some of the seed fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil; it sprang up immediately, because it had no depth; but when the sun rose and burned it, it withered, because it had no roots. Other seed fell among thorn bushes; and the thorns grew and choked it; so it didn’t produce any grain.
But some seed fell on good soil, grew and increased and yielded grain; some seed produced thirty times as much, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.” And Jesus added, “Listen then, if you have ears.”When the crowd went away, some who were around him with the Twelve asked about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But for those outside, everything comes in parables, so, that, the more they see, they don’t perceive; the more they hear, they don’t understand; otherwise they would be converted and pardoned.” Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How, then, will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those along the path, where the seed fell, are people who hear the word, but as soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.Other people receive the word like rocky ground. As soon as they hear the word, they accept it with joy. But they have no roots, so it lasts only a little while. No sooner does trouble or persecution come because of the word, than they fall. Others receive the seed, as seed among thorns. After they hear the word, they are caught up in the worries of this life, false hopes of riches and other desires. All these come in and choke the word, so that finally it produces nothing.And there are others who receive the word as good soil. They hear the word, take it to heart and produce: some thirty, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.”
“Don’t you understand this parable?”
Speaking to country people like himself, Jesus often employed stories and images drawn from nature. Surely among his audience there were many who knew from firsthand the work of sowing seeds. They would know that it was a careless farmer who cast his precious seeds on rocky ground, or among thorns, or along a path. By this standard Jesus is a profligate farmer indeed—proclaiming his message to all, to the sinner as well as the righteous. What determines our capacity to receive this message? According to Jesus the obstacle is not necessarily a matter of “sin” but lack of “depth”—the lack of a capacity for inwardness. We live on the surface of life, preoccupied by daily cares, or fantasies of success, or concerns about the future, and so fail to live in the actual moment in which we are living. Thus, when the message of Good News comes to us we are incapable of receiving it. Soil cannot literally prepare itself for the seed. But we have power over ourselves: to rein in our capacity for distraction, to safeguard space for silence, to be attentive—and so to be ready to respond when the Word of God encounters us.
© Copyright Bible Diary 2019