Scripture for June 17, 11th Sun. B. Ezekiel 17:22-24. Psalm 92:2-3,13-14, 15-16. II Corinthians 5:6-10. Mark 4:26-34:
Certainly the parables of Jesus come alive and jump out at us when we are attentive to them in the liturgy. Often they are opened for us by the homilist and we carry them within our minds and hearts throughout the day. They even bring a smile to us from time to time for there is humor in many of them—especially that of exaggeration and surprise.
They are meant to bring the Good News of Jesus to us and act as do commercials for they are trying to convince us that the kingdom of God is really the best purchase we could ever have. In fact, throughout the ages, some of them have become so real that we think they were actual happenings or events like the Good Samaritan or the Publican praying. We realize they are Jesus’ communicating to us things about the kingdom of God. Some hospitals even are clled Good Samaritan Hospital—so real are some of these short stories with a message from Jesus that they are kept alive in our memories.
The shorter and emphatic parables are probably the ones that Mark liked best for he is the first to give us parables among the Evangelists especially prompting Matthew and Luke to follow his example and even give us more from their own seeking out the oral
traditions about Jesus. Mark shares fewer parables than the other two Synoptic Gospels but his are perfect for leading us to an understanding of what Jesus wants us to learn through his picturesque examples. His first parable often is used as a cover for his Gospel in some commentaries or even in some Bibles. He tells us that there were many more parables but gives us only these two as a start. They are good ones—the Sower and the Seed, and the Mustard Seed. Almost every commentator tells us they show us from small beginnings great things happen and that is how the kingdom comes about and maybe on another look at them how the Christian community or church grows.
What caught my attention today was the words “how” and “what.” Mark gives us the Sower parable to show how the kingdom comes about in a mysterious yet real way. It grows silently and produces its fruit.
There is a universality about its message of secret continued growth into its full grown produce for the harvest. Such is the kingdom of God. The what of the kingdom are its elements and how within our hearts the kingdom of God is already present through our faith and Baptism but it is intended to continue to grow and develop within our lives. Each day should show some of these hidden sighs of growth now suddenly coming forth like the seed from the ground.
Jesus wants us to internalize the message. The kingdom of God is within us. We learn from both parables the how and the what of Jesus’ Good News. Parables thus are like good counselors or spiritual directors who take us where we are in our growth and development and from that point enable us to produce the leaf, the flower, and then the fruit within ourselves who have the kingdom within us. This is part of the journey with Jesus to the ultimate goal of the parables—enjoying the messianic banquet in the presence of God for all eternity. We often call this heaven. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertand Buby, S.M.