Friday, January 26, 2018
1) Opening prayer
All-powerful and ever-living God,
direct Your love that is within us,
that our efforts in the name of Your Son
may bring the human race to unity and peace.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 4:26-34
Jesus said to the crowds: “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.” He said, “To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
• It is always beautiful to see Jesus, who sought in life and in events new elements and images which could help people to see and experience the presence of the Kingdom. In today’s Gospel, once again, He narrates two brief stories which take place every day in the life of all of us: the story of “the seed that grows by itself” and the story of “the small mustard seed which grows into the biggest shrub”.
• The story of the seed which grows alone. The farmer who plants knows the process: seed, the green sprout, leaf, spike, grain. The farmer knows how to wait. He does not cut down the grain before it is time. But he does not know how the soil, the rain, the sun and the seed have this force or strength to make the plant grow from nothing until it bears fruit. This is how the Kingdom of God is. It is a process. There are stages and moments of growth. It takes place in time. It produces fruit at just the right moment, but nobody knows how to explain its mysterious force - nobody, not even the landlord. Only God!
• The story of the small mustard seed which grows and becomes big. The mustard seed is small, but it grows, and at the end the birds make their nests in its branches. This is how the Kingdom is. It begins very small, it grows, and it extends its branches. The parable leaves an open question which will receive a response later on in the Gospel: Who are the birds? The text suggests that it is the pagans, who will not be able to enter the community and participate in the Kingdom.
• Because Jesus teaches by means of parables. Jesus tells many parables. All are taken from the life of the people! In this way He helped people discover the things of God in daily life, a life which becomes transparent because what is extraordinary from God is hidden in the ordinary and common things of daily life. People understood the things of life. In the parables they received the key to open them and to find the signs of God in them.
4) Personal questions
• Jesus does not explain the parables. He tells the stories and awakens in others the imagination to reflect on the discovery. What have you discovered in these two parables?
• The purpose of these words is to render life transparent. Has your life become more transparent throughout the years, or has the contrary taken place?
5) Concluding Prayer
Have mercy on me, O God, in Your faithful love,
in Your great tenderness wipe away my offenses;
wash me clean from my guilt,
purify me from my sin. (Ps 51:1-2)