Lectio Divina

Wednesday - Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

All-powerful and ever-living God,
direct your love that is within us,
that our efforts in the name of your Son
may bring mankind to unity and peace.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Mark 4,1-20

Again he began to teach them by the lakeside, but such a huge crowd gathered round him that he got into a boat on the water and sat there. The whole crowd were at the lakeside on land. He taught them many things in parables, and in the course of his teaching he said to them, 'Listen! Imagine a sower going out to sow. Now it happened that, as he sowed, some of the seed fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground where it found little soil and at once sprang up, because there was no depth of earth; and when the sun came up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away. Some seed fell into thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it produced no crop. And some seeds fell into rich soil, grew tall and strong, and produced a good crop; the yield was thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.' And he said, 'Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!'
When he was alone, the Twelve, together with the others who formed his company, asked what the parables meant. He told them, 'To you is granted the secret of the kingdom of God, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and look, but never perceive; listen and listen, but never understand; to avoid changing their ways and being healed.'
He said to them, 'Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those on the edge of the path where the word is sown are people who have no sooner heard it than Satan at once comes and carries away the word that was sown in them.
Similarly, those who are sown on patches of rock are people who, when first they hear the word, welcome it at once with joy. But they have no root deep down and do not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, at once they fall away.
Then there are others who are sown in thorns. These have heard the word, but the worries of the world, the lure of riches and all the other passions come in to choke the word, and so it produces nothing.
And there are those who have been sown in rich soil; they hear the word and accept it and yield a harvest, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.'

3) Reflection

• Sitting in the boat, Jesus taught the crowds. In these verses, Mark describes the way in which Jesus teaches the crowd: on the sea side, sitting in the boat, many people around to listen to him. Jesus was not a cultured person (Jn 7, 15). He had not frequented the Superior School of Jerusalem. He had come from inside, from the country side, from Nazareth. He was someone who was unknown, in part, he was a craftsman, in part a country man. Without asking permission from the authority, he began to teach the people. He spoke in a very different way. People liked to listen to him.
By means of the parables, Jesus helped people to perceive the mysterious presence of the Kingdom in the things of life. A parable is a comparison. He uses the known and visible things of life to explain the invisible and unknown things of the Kingdom of God. For example, the people from Galilee understood when he spoke of seeds, of soil, of rain, of the sun, of the salt, of flowers, of fish, of the harvest, etc. And Jesus, precisely, uses in his parable, these things which were known to the people, to explain the mystery of the Kingdom.
• The parable of the sower is a picture of the life of the farmers. At that time, it was not easy to get a livelihood from agriculture. The land was full of stones. There were many bushes; little rain, much sun. Besides, many times, people in order to shorten the distance passed through the fields and stepped on the plants. (Mk 2, 23). But in spite of that, every year, the farmer sowed and planted, trustful in the force of the seed, in the generosity of nature.
• He who has ears to listen, let him listen! Jesus begins the parable saying: “Listen! (Mk 4, 3). Now, at the end, he says: “He who has ears to listen, let him listen!” The way to understand the parable is research, seeking, “Trying to understand!” The parable does not give us everything ready made, but induces those who listen to think and discover, basing themselves on the lived experience which they have of the seed. It induces to creativity and to participation. It is not a doctrine that arrives ready made to be taught and decorated. The Parable does not give bottled water, but rather leads one to the fountain or source. The farmer who listens, says: Seed in the ground, I know what that is!” But Jesus says that this has something to do with the Kingdom of God. What would this be? And one can already guess the long conversations of the crowd. The parable affects the people, moves them and impels them to listen to nature and to think about life.
• Jesus explains the parable to his disciples. At home, alone with Jesus, the disciples want to know the meaning of the parable. They do not understand it. Jesus was surprised before their ignorance (Mk 4, 13) and responds with a difficult and mysterious phrase. He tells his disciples: “To you is granted the secret of the Kingdom of God; but to those who are outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and look and never perceive, listen and listen but never understand, to avoid changing their ways and being healed!”. This phrase leads people to ask themselves. But, then for what good is the parable? To clarify or to hide? Perhaps Jesus uses parables in order that people may continue to live in ignorance and does not reach conversion? Certainly not! Because in another point Mark says that Jesus used parables “according to what they could understand” (Mk 4, 33).
The parable reveals and hides at the same time! It reveals to “those who are inside”, who accept Jesus, the Messiah, the Servant. It hides for those who insist in considering him the Messiah, the glorious King. They understand the images of the parable, but they do not succeed to get the significance.
• The explanation of the parable in its different parts. One after another, Jesus explains the parts of the parable, the seed, the soil up to the harvest time. Some scholars hold that this explanation was added later, and would have been given by some communities. This is well possible! Because in the bud of the parable there is already the flower of the explanation. Bud and flower, both have the same origin which is Jesus. For this reason, we also can continue to reflect and discover other beautiful things in the parable. Once, a person asked in community: “Jesus has said that we should be salt. For what does salt serve?” This was discussed and at the end there were discovered more than ten diverse purposes that salt can have! Then these significances were applied to the life of the community and it was discovered that to be salt is something difficult and demanding. The parable functioned! The same for what concerns the seed. Everybody has some experience of the seed.

4) Personal questions

What experience do you have with seeds? How does this help you to understand the Good News better?
What type of soil are you?

5) Concluding prayer

Fix your gaze on Yahweh
and your face will grow bright,
you will never hang your head in shame. (Ps 34,5)


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Last revised: 14 January 2008