January 30, 2019
by Diane Jorgensen
Creighton University's School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 319

Hebrews 10:11-18
Pslams 110:1, 2, 3, 4
Mark 4:1-20

Praying Ordinary Time

Today’s gospel from Mark includes a very familiar parable – the Sower and the Seed. I like pondering parables with all its details. In this story, Jesus likens seeds, and the ground on which it falls, to how people hear the Word. I think it’s a neatly ordered and rich analogy, my logical mind likes it. As some seed falls along the path and is eaten by the birds, so some people hear the word of God and it “goes in one ear and out the other”. And so on. But like any parable, it is more for those who can listen with the ears of the heart, than the understanding of the mind.
As we hear this parable our first response might be “What is my ground like? Are there a lot of birds and weeds? How deeply is the Word rooted in me? Am I easily distracted? Am I bearing good fruit, and if so, how much? And what is it?”  And this might be fruitful prayer. We may even be thinking about how we can help others live on weed-free, better fertilized soil so they can be more fruitful! But what might Jesus be saying about the Sower?

This sower is a very unfortunate farmer with an impractical agricultural plan. If the sower hopes to bear fruit of “thirty and sixty and a hundredfold” there must be a better way to sow the seed. In the parable some seed is eaten, some never develops good roots and other seed never bears fruit because of the weeds. Throwing precious seed everywhere, hoping that it lands on good soil, leaves a lot to chance… and seems wasteful! Might Jesus be saying something about how God, the Sower, “is” in the world, contrary to what we think might be more efficient, reasonable and productive?

Might God be “ising” everywhere, throwing seed right and left, far and near, from a bottomless bag of seed, not being too particular about where it lands, confident there is always more? Knowing that the harvest will provide more than enough for everyone? The sower isn’t clearing the rocks and weeds, and fertilizing the soil to assure the greatest yield, but rather, spreading seed everywhere! Sure, some seed will be eaten by birds, what of it? There is always more. Perhaps this parable is about the abundance and generosity and patience – and perhaps even “wastefulness” - of the Divine life, and incredibly, not so much about a God who is disapproving, cautious and calculating … or even practical.

Here is where I see a connection with the first reading – the encouraging Letter to the Hebrews:

“This is the covenant I will establish with them
after those days, says the Lord:
"I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them upon their minds,"

Their sins and their evildoing
I will remember no more.

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.”

Everyone gets seed - not penalty or punishment – even those of us with weedy, rocky, dry patches of soil.

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