Reflections on a familiar parable

{As the title says, this is just me reflecting on a familiar parable after having read it from the Catena Aurea: Gospel of Mark. It’s not really asking for help. I figured this would be the best place to put it. Just as a disclaimer: If I use “we” or similar pronouns, I mean it in a more general sense – not referring to any specific group of people.}

I always find it fascinating how I can read the same passage from the Bible multiple times and connect it to my life in a new way. Of course, reading it with good, Catholic commentary helps as well! Recently, I was reading the Parable of the Sower from Mark’s Gospel from the Catena Aurea. Beforehand, I thought, “I know this parable by heart. Jesus even explains afterward what it means.” While that was true, I didn’t realize that I only knew a small portion of the parable – in terms of its full meaning. Rarely had I ever thought about why this farmer is just chucking seeds out everywhere – especially in places where seeds can’t grow. I also never really placed myself into the parable, and I definitely didn’t realize this was the first parable. {I think it is at least. In Mark it is.}

After reading this parable in light of the ECF’s, I am reminded of a further teaching of Jesus: Many are called, but few are chosen. The sower, i.e., Christ, throws the seeds out everywhere they can land. The soil must be fertile and the conditions right for the seed to grow. So why throw it into thorns or rocky ground or the wayside where it’s taken up by birds? Thorns can be taken down. Rocky ground can be destroyed. The wayside can be cleared and made ready for good soil. While reading, I noticed that the conditions went from the worst to the best. Jesus is the sower, and we are the land onto which the seeds [his Word] are thrown. Ideally, we should hear his Word and then grow from it ourselves and bear an abundance of fruit. Unfortunately, sometimes the Word will be thrown our way, but we don’t even pay attention to it {wayside}. Other times, we’ll hear the Word, grow from it, but then it just dies away because we ourselves weren’t in the right conditions {rocky ground}. Finally, other times we’ll hear the Word but be so caught up in what others are saying and, wanting to fit in, will choke the Word away {thorns}.

All the unfortunate scenarios have something in common: They can all be changed. However, it involves work. If we aren’t paying attention to the Word of God, we have to work to listen. God speaks in silence, and we can’t let even our own thoughts get in the way of listening to Him. That takes work. If we find that we immediately grow from the Word yet assume that we can act as we have been in the past, that past will come back and kill the Word in us. Therefore, we have to work on destroying the rocky, prideful foundation we may have built on ourselves. We must have a foundation of fertile humility so that whenever people hear the Word coming from us {whether spoken or acted out}, they know that it is God’s Word – not our word. Finally, if outside forces are choking the Word away before it has a chance to grow in us, we have to cut out those outside forces. If it’s other people, including family members, we should cut out their influences from our lives. If it’s other things, we should cut those influences out, too. Once again, it takes work. However, even the fortunate situation has work involved! When the Word has gotten a chance to grow in us, we should bear an abundance of fruit. Then, we can work on helping others in the unfortunate scenarios get out of the bad lands and into fertile soil. Also, we mustn’t slip back ourselves into the unfortunate scenarios. Maintenance takes work.

That’s the main thing that had always slipped my mind: Work. Too often with these types of parables, I’ll know what the ideal situation is, but I won’t actually assess where I am. It’s sort of this unconscious thing where I think, “I should be part of the fertile soil. … Well, I hope I am! {or} I hope I get there someday!” and then just leave it at that. In regards to the parable, I had never given a thought about the fact that the bad conditions can be changed through work. {Just to clear up a bit of confusion, I know about faith and works; I had just never thought about it in regards to the parable. xP}

Finally, I think the image of a sower sowing seeds {xP} is very fitting for Jesus’ first parable. He is giving us the Word of God; he is the Word of God. He is giving it to the world, but we must have a solid foundation for the Word to truly grow in us so that we may bear an abundance of fruit. I think Mary is the perfect example. She had a solid foundation thanks to God; she was full of grace, immaculately conceived. When she received the Word of God in her womb, it was able to grow inside of her womb. She gave the world an abundance of fruit – most importantly, the Word himself: Jesus Christ. With this parable, Jesus is quite literally planting the seed.

{I hope this is OK to post here. Again, this is just my reflections after reading the Parable of the Sower from Mark’s Gospel in light of the ECF’s commentaries from the Catena Aurea. If I said anything wrong, I do apologize and will do my best to learn and grow!}

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