Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 5; 147:1-11, Genesis 42:18-28, 1 Corinthians 5:9-6:11, Mark 4:1-20
Jesus frequently used parables to teach his followers. A parable is more than a story: it illustrates a deeper truth or lesson not easily expressed through more direct instruction. Most of the time Jesus told a parable and left the interpretation to his audience. One benefit of not explaining too much is that people can approach the parable from different angles and identify with different characters. The risk is people failing to understand your message.
For today’s parable about the seeds, however, he unpacks the meaning of the parable (in a somewhat exasperated fashion) to his inner circle. Some landed on rocky ground and were easily uprooted, others landed on scorched earth and withered, and still others were eaten by birds or choked out by thorns. The seeds are the Word, and the type of soil they land on represents the condition of the person receiving the Word. Only a few are standing on good soil where the seed can take root and produce fruit.
We can benefit from Jesus’ explanation by making conscious decisions about what kind of ground we are preparing for the seed. Have you wandered off a righteous path to where the evils of the world can snatch the Word away? Retreat to a community that nurtures your faith. Find yourself on rocky ground that won’t secure you in times of trouble? Till the soil with prayer and study so you will be rooted in the storms. Are you caught in a thorny tangle of worldly concerns that chokes out the Word? Prune them back by simplifying your life to free up time and space to spend in the Word.
Of course making any of these moves from inhospitable soil to a place where we can grow deep roots takes a lot of time and effort. And once we’re there, we can’t lazily wait for a harvest: we still have to do the work of tending the seedlings. A living, growing faith requires care, but as it matures it becomes more self-sufficient. Are we doing what we can to make sure it gets a decent start?
Comfort: You can prepare yourself to better receive Christ’s Word.
Challenge: Imagine yourself as each of the types of soil Christ mentions in this parable.
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for the gift of stories and insight. Please make my heart fertile ground for the seeds Christ offers. Amen.
Discussion: What is your soil like? How can you tend it better?
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