“Do you not understand this parable”?
Gospel Reflection for Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 -- Mark 4:1-20
Stories quite often paint pictures with words. In the hands of a master, stories can come to life, becoming quite evocative. So, it seems to be the case with the parables of Jesus. He seemed to be quite perplexed that His disciples hadn’t grasped the nuanced meaning of his stories. "Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables?”
Why is it that some hear a particular story and come to a totally different understanding?
We’ve all heard homilies on today’s parable of the sower. Seeds of faith are sown all the time. The potential for successful germination as described in the parable is dependent upon the ground on which the seeds land. Do you have a predisposition to believe the truth, or are you more inclined to believe the lie?
There is only one TRUTH, and the truth isn’t relative, as new-age scholastics would have us believe.
For the past week, we’ve been looking at folks who’ve been called and sent to spread the “Good News of the Gospel.” Those of us who’ve been called have a particular responsibility to the TRUTH. And it’s imperative that we pass along the correct information — eternal lives depend upon our fidelity to the TRUTH.
In today’s parable, it is the disposition of those who hear the word that is most important. However, we're certain that the quality of the seeds planted is equally important. This is why it’s so important that those preaching the Gospel present the unadulterated TRUTH, unvarnished by our personal feelings or popular cultural agendas.
Why is this so important? It’s because Salvation cannot come through false teaching! As an example, as scripture says of the Virgin Mary, all generations will call her “Blessed.” While it is true that Catholics have venerated Mary as the first among the Saints, because she said yes to the incarnation, there is nowhere in either sacred scripture or authentic teachings that we must seek salvation through her.
As an example, I engaged with one individual yesterday that was unshakable in her resolve that Salvation was via Mary. She could not explain how she came by this belief. While it is true that Mary cooperated in our salvation by saying YES to the virgin birth, that doesn’t mean that she “saves” us. The fact is that each of us must cooperate with God in our own salvation — we MUST accept Jesus' free gift of salvation. Additionally, just as we are capable of praying for others, the Saints, including Mary may pray for us, in a sense, they mediating for us before God. But, nowhere are we taught that we must approach salvation through anything else or any other Name but Jesus.
Jesus, in today’s Gospel, was concerned that his followers were truly understanding His teachings. Why? Because right belief is dependent upon authentic teachings. This is why it’s important that not all who are called are sent. As a bishop, I have the responsibility to ensure that those seeking authority to teach the Word of God, are properly trained themselves and are able to rightly discern true teachings.
The stories we read throughout the Bible provide us with rich insight to the mind of God, and His plan to reconcile this lost world to Himself. We consider that proper discernment of these teachings is of the utmost importance. Multiple thousands of Christian denominations give witness to the FACT that not everyone who interprets scripture, does so with the same fidelity.
Our particular Church chooses to ground our understandings of scriptural interpretation on how the earliest Christians practiced their faith, rather than deriving our teachings from popular opinion.
Whoever has ears to hear, aught to hear!
Gospel -- Mk 4:1-20
On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction, he said to them, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”
And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.”
Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
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