Friday of Week 3 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Mark 4:26-34

Here we have the two last parables told by Mark in this part of his Gospel.  They are both images of the Kingdom of God, of God’s truth and love spreading among people all over the world.  They are both taken from the world of agriculture, a world that would have been very familiar to Jesus’ listeners.

In the first, God’s work is compared to a farmer planting seed.  As in the parable of the Sower, the seed is the Kingdom.  Night and day, the process of growth continues without any human intervention.  Whether the farmer is awake or asleep, the process of growth continues.  The seed sprouts and grows and the farmer does not know how.  The outcome is certain. Once the seed is ripe, it is for the farmer to bring in the harvest.  And that is our task – to bring in the harvest which has been planted in the hearts of people.  In the words of the other parables, it is up to us to shine the light which helps people see the truth and love of God already present in their deepest being.

In the second parable, the Kingdom is compared to a mustard seed.  Although one of the tiniest of seeds, it grows into a sizeable shrub in which even birds can build their nests.

Both of these parables are words of encouragement to a struggling Church living in small scattered communities, and surrounded by hostile elements ready to destroy it.  How amazed would the Christians of those days be if they could see how the seed has grown and spread to parts of the world of whose very existence they were totally unaware! Today, we still need to have trust like theirs, and confidence in the power of the Kingdom to survive and spread.

Mark says that Jesus spoke many parables, or even that he spoke only in parables.  But the full meaning of his teaching was explained to his inner circles of disciples. Those staying ‘outside’ were not ready to take in the message.  They are the ones who were not “hearing”, as Jesus told his disciples to do.  How sensitive is my hearing?

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