Scripture: Lectionary 321. Hebrews 10:32-39. Psalm 37:3-4.5-6.23-24.39-40. Mark 4:26-34:
Mark records a few parables in today’s reading that show us Jesus preaching and teaching the crowds through parables about the kingdom. We move quickly through them with the skill of Mark’s fast moving style and narrative.
These parables are among the simplest, most direct, and easily applied to the kingdom that has come with the person of Jesus. He teaches through the doings and images of ordinary life in his time and leads the listeners to learn something about the kingdom of God through these comparisons with sowing of seeds and growing of shrubs and food producing plants.
He continues, however, to instruct those who are his more ardent followers, his disciples, to go deeper into the meaning of the parables. He helps them to do this as we continue our reading of chapter four.
Those who listen and understand will then be able to bring the Good News of the kingdom of God to others when Jesus sends them out to do so and especially after his death. People like Peter and Mark will continue to proclaim Jesus’ words and deeds. The parables live on and on.
In the opening line we realize that the kingdom is the object of the parable, that is, the point Jesus wants to make. “This is how it is with the kingdom of God…”
The seeds sown seem to be a common theme in the collection of sayings that Mark has handed on to us. What is hidden in the ground will sprout forth and bear fruit; the harvest will be great. The kingdom like the Christian community is growing constantly among the believers. The smallest of seeds that Jesus chooses is the mustard seed. It will illustrate by its progression and growth the hidden but sure growth of the community and the kingdom among them.
We are indebted to Pope John Paul for giving us the luminous mysteries of the rosary. The third mystery captures the parables of today: the Proclaiming of the Kingdom through the Gospel. This would be a good devotion for today while praying this decade of the rosary. We should say the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary and Glory be while thinking of these parables especially that of the mustard seed.
“Mustard plants are invasive shrubs that grow to be a few feet high. Like many parables, this one is satirical and humorous, and highly suggestive: the kingdom is like a scrubby invasive bush. The parables suggests that the kingdom arises from a very small beginning and nevertheless grows miraculously.” (Jewish Annotated New Testament, p.68). Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.