The Seed that Grows Itself

parable_SowerMark alone records this parable: He said, “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land  and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”  (Mark 4:26-29)

Placed beyond the parable of the Sower (vv.1-9) and its explanation, it is easy for the significance of this to be lost in the fast-paced narrative of Mark’s gospel. In the parable of the Sower, the meaning of the interim time before the fruits appear has a positive sense: the time of waiting is a time for sowing, an opportunity for seed to be scattered in the field. There is also a teaching that in that interim period there will be barriers, resistance, and problems encountered in the sowing of the seed as it comes to fruition.

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A Sunday of parables

parable_SowerThis coming Sunday the Church returns to “Ordinary Time” – not ordinary as regular and everyday, but from the Latin meaning to count. We celebrate the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings, especially the first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel and the Gospel from Mark, each make use of parables. The New Testament scholar, Charles H. Dodd (d. 1973) gave the Church its most classic and enduring definition of a parable: “a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.”

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