Scripture: Mark 4:1-20
Key verses: (2-3) “He began to teach them many things in parables, . . . Listen! . . .”
Reflection: Everyone enjoys a good story and Jesus was a master storyteller. He was able to take the ordinary things of life and weave them into lessons about important truths. Each of Jesus’ parables focus on a single point. Today’s parable is a familiar one that is both told and interpreted by Jesus. Using metaphorical language, Jesus compares the seed that the farmer sows to the word of God and the different kinds of soil to the condition of an individual person’s heart and mind. Jesus said that some people are like a path, some like rocky soil, some like thorny plants and some good soil. Seed that falls on each kind of ground will do different things. As I have reflected on these kinds of soil, it occurred to me that at any given time, we may be one of these soils. I know there have been times in my life when I was eager to hear, swept up in emotion, but what I heard didn’t stick. There have been times when too much was going on in my life so I didn’t understand what the word was saying to me. I heard the words, felt inspired, but was only temporarily filled with joy because I was consumed with either my cares or my wants. There have been times when I was ready to hear the word, accept it and act on it. God’s call to me and the needs of the world intersected and I was able to be useful for God. But, the main thing this parable has taught me is that I need to listen before I act. I have to recognize and discern God’s voice found in the word. God is generous. But, when I am not listening for God, when I am neglecting my relationship with Christ and my prayer life, when I am struggling and confused, God’s word is either lost in the wind, choked by weeds and thorns, or unproductive because the seeds had shallow roots, yielding nothing.
Lent is a good time to reflect on what kind of followers of Jesus we want to be. This parable invites us to examine our lives and own up to the ways we neglect our relationship with God. Good soil is something we can prepare through our service and devotion to the things and people that God loves, then God will do the rest. This cultivation happens when we participate in the things we are asked to do: to take care of those who are marginalized by homelessness, sickness and grief and to walk humbly with God showing and working for the love, acceptance, forgiveness and justice of God in our and other’s lives. The word invites us to cultivate good soil so that kindness, compassion, self-control, love, and patience can grow up and bear much fruit. My hope is we won’t be like those who look, but can’t perceive; and those who listen, but don’t understand. Because of forgiveness, we can move beyond our neglect and mistakes to experience a full life in Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, we invite you to sow the seeds of your word in our lives. Help us prepare our hearts and minds to receive you so that we might be of some use to you in the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].