Wednesday of the Third Week of the Year, January 30, 2019

We Are The Real Seed Of The Kingdom
Through Jesus God succeeded implanting his law into the hearts of people through the obedience of Jesus. The new covenant is one that affects people in the deepest of themselves and disposes them to seek God’s will.
Why has the kingdom of God not taken deeper roots among us? Why does it grow so slowly? In today’s Gospel, Mark states that this is a mystery of God’s efforts and people’s lack of depth and understanding. The kingdom is here among us, but it meets the slowing down resistance of people. It is hard to respond to the demands of the Gospel, to be truly and totally converted to God’s plan with us, to form a community that lives according to God’s norms and witnesses to God’s presence. Are we willing to be that community which promotes the growth of God’s kingdom?

1 Reading: Hebrews 10:11-18 
Every priest stands daily at his ministry,
offering frequently those same sacrifices
that can never take away sins.
But this one offered one sacrifice for sins,
and took his seat forever at the right hand of God;
now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.
For by one offering he has made perfect forever
those who are being consecrated.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying:

This is the covenant I will establish with them

after those days, says the Lord:
“I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them upon their minds,”
he also says:

Their sins and their evildoing
I will remember no more.

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4
R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Mark 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.”

The imagery in the parable of the sower and the seed might seem a little confusing. When Jesus is asked to explain the parable, we are first told that the seed is the word of God (v. 14), but then as the various categories are introduced, the seed represents the hearers, those sown on rocky ground (v. 16) and those sown among thorns (v. 18). Nonetheless, the teaching remains clear enough, with the categories as relevant today as in the time of Jesus.
The reading from Hebrews reminds us that Christianity is primarily a religion of the heart. Ours is a covenant that is deeply personal and calls for an internal response. The single offering of Christ is more than sufficient in which all sin is forgiven. Yet, as the parable states, the responses will vary. The seed sown on the footpath never takes root and soon loses its effectiveness. The rocky ground represents those who start well but whose faith is too superficial. Those sown among thorns show promise, but anxieties and worldly cares eventually choke growth and development. The good soil gives fife to the seed and enables it to grow and produce a remarkable yield.
If we have felt our faith grow through the years, the seed is in healthy soil. For that we can only be grateful. But as we know well, there are those who never gave faith a chance. Some start off well but never reach a level of spiritual maturity. Today’s readings call for a moment of thanks and a prayer for those whose faith is faltering. The weak, too, are loved by God and should not be for-gotten.

And God sows. He sends the rain and the sunshine to make the seed blooms and grows and bears fruit. But do we let the seed mature and grow? Bear fruit, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!


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