Mark doesn’t give us many parables in his Gospel. Yet the first parable we hear this morning is unique to his Gospel. Only he tells this story.
The parable illustrates the power of the seed once it is placed in the soil. Once it is planted, it germinates of its own power. No other human intervention is needed for it to germinate, to grow, and to produce fruit.
God’s word is similar. Once it is preached, it works wonders without any other human intervention. Jesus is the Word and brings Good News to humankind. Once the Word is preached, it continues to be effective with no help from the preacher.
Both the preaching of Timothy and the preaching of Titus can be used to illustrate this parable. In addressing his letter to Titus, he accentuates the fact that he is simply the bearer of the message, that while he considers himself God’s slave, God’s Word is never enslaved. Once it has been preached by Paul, it is picked up by another who hands it off to another, and so on. Chains and shackles can impede humankind. However, God’s Word continues to be effective.
There is a beautiful example of the power of God’s Word in a movie which never made it big in the box office. “Amistad” is the story of a slave ship and its cargo. The boat drifted north to states that did not allow slaves. While one group tried to claim these men as their property, another group worked to see them go free. In the course of a lengthy court battle, someone gave a copy of the Scriptures to one of the prisoners. He could not read English. However, by simply looking at the illustrations in that Bible, he was able to read the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. After telling the story to his fellow prisoners in very simple terms, he looked at his fellow-captives and made the bold statement that what had happened to Jesus would happen to them as well. The man heard God’s Word through pictures and understood its power. I will never forget the first time I saw the scene and how I felt as I watched. It was quite overwhelming.
God’s Word is present to us each and every day. What a wonderful gift we have in the Word and in the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator