Today’s reading: Mark 4:1-20
The parable of the sower is a one of the most famous and studied parables of Jesus. Part of its allure is probably the fact that we are given a look at the workings of Jesus’ inner circle when he explains the parable to his apostles.
As we know the parable describes a sower (Jesus) sowing seeds (the Word) on four (4) types of soil. The four types are: seed sown on the ground that is eaten by the birds, seed sown on rocky ground, seed sown among thorns, and seed sown on good soil. Two things are interesting to note. First, sowing in three types of soil does not produce good results. Think about that … Jesus Christ himself has a success rate of just 1 in 4, only 25%! This should give us both pause and encouragement. Pause, because we should not be too quick to assume that we are the good soil. Can we really say that difficulties, suffering don’t cause us to doubt? Can we really say that things of the world don’t distract us keep us from letting the Word have full effect in us? However, we should also be encouraged. We may share the Word with many people and it may appear to us to be ineffective. That’s OK, because if our Lord has only a 25% success rate we may just not be able to know in this lifetime how effective our efforts were.
Second, note how rich the returns are when the seed is sown successfully! Most of us would be happy with a ten percent return, but the Lord’s returns are thirty, sixty and a hundred fold! Indeed, the Lord can do more with only a little than we could ever do. Perhaps the return the Lord is speaking of is the re-sowing of seeds, from what was infertile to what becomes fertile ground.
Finally, note that the Apostles are given a special explanation of what the teachings of the parables mean. We are safe to assume that this happens even today. We have seen it in things like the writings of Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict. The bishops, who are the successors of the Apostles, through their prayer and devotion are given insights by the Holy Spirit to teach and preach the gospel with an effectiveness that doesn’t always correspond to their abilities.
Tomorrow: Mark 4: 21-41