St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
II Samuel 7:4-17 + Mark 4:1-20
January 24, 2018
“But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit….”
Given that Saint Mark’s Gospel account—the shortest of the four—focuses more on Jesus’ actions than His preaching, we ought to take special note of the preaching that Mark does choose for inclusion in his Gospel account. We might consider the parables Mark includes as a “best of…” list.
Today’s Gospel passage has three parts. The first and the last are Jesus’ proclamation of a parable, and the parable’s explanation. In between, Jesus briefly explains His general purpose in preaching through parables. Most of the fourth chapter of Mark consists of parables, and today’s Gospel passage consists of the first twenty verses of Mark 4, so today’s parable is of primary importance.
The Parable of the Sower, Mark’s telling of which is a mere six verses, has inspired dissertations hundreds of pages long. Like the mustard seed (to allude to a different parable), its size belies its potential. To choose one simple facet of today’s parable: who is the sower? There are at least two answers. The parable can be thought of in terms of the sower being either God the Father, or you as an individual. Here consider the former scenario.
The sower is God the Father. He sows His Word (God the Son) prodigally. What seems like foolishness or imprudence in His manner of sowing is in fact a measure of His love’s depth. He offers His Word even to those of us whose souls are rocky or otherwise inhospitable. The challenge here is for each individual to till the soil of the soul, or otherwise clear and tend it as needed to allow the word to take root there.