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Gospel for Sunday, June 13 : Mark 4: 26-34

Mark 4, 26-34

26“The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed into the ground; 27whether you sleep or wake, night or day, the seed germinates and grows; how, he himself does not know. 28Since the earth spontaneously produces, first the stem, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29When the fruit is ready, you immediately put your hand to the sickle, because the harvest has come. 30To what can we compare the kingdom of God or with what parable can we describe it? 31It is like a mustard seed which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds that are on the earth; 32but as soon as it is sown it grows and becomes larger than all vegetables and produces branches so large that the birds of the sky can take shelter in its shade.” 33With many parables of this kind he announced the word to them according to what they could understand. 34Without parables he did not speak to them; but in private, to his disciples, he explained everything.

Mark 4: 26-34

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

THE BOOK OF PARABLES: 4,1-34

This chapter is very important because the Gospel of Mark generally gives a lot of space to gestures, and little to speeches: this literary composition in which Jesus explains to those who are “inside”, with him, the Mystery of the Kingdom.

The parable of the seed that grows by itself (4.26-28)

26 He said: «The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed into the ground; 27 whether you sleep or wake, by night or by day, the seed germinates and grows; how, he himself does not know. 28 For the earth spontaneously produces, first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 When the fruit is ready, he immediately puts his hand to the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

We should be grateful to Mark even just for this Parable. This is the only parable that only Mark has: it is not in Matthew, Luke and John. It is the Parable of the seed that grows by itself.

The Word of God always comes true (Is 55,10-11): this is our great trust, this grounds our serenity, this makes us understand why every time IHWH appears in history, every time God reveals himself in Jesus Christ, the first word he says is: “Do not be afraid, be at ease”, from Exodus 14 until the Easter event.

The seed grows – says Marco – “automate”, that is, automatically, by itself. This is truly a source of great serenity for us: we need to have patience and trust, but the Kingdom of God always comes. This Parable is an invitation to optimism: no matter how agitated we are, the Kingdom progresses only due to its intrinsic strength, and all we have to do is conclude, as Luke will say in another passage: “We are useless servants. We have done what we had to do” (Luke 17:10). Ignatius of Loyola said: “Act as if everything depended on you, knowing that in reality everything depends on God”.

We are not even afraid of not responding to the Word of God, of not being able to understand his will for us: let’s not get too upset. Instead, we know how to be amazed by this Word which always comes true, which always bears fruit, whether we get busy or whether we fall asleep. This is a great consolation for us who often do not see the Kingdom advancing, who are often sad because it seems that the forces of evil are winning, who often in our daily experience feel overwhelmed by illness, death, suffering, sin. Here, however, we are told that the seed of the Word grows automatically: it is the parable of serenity.

The parable of the mustard seed (4.30-32)

30 He said: «To what can we compare the kingdom of God or with what parable can we describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds that are on the earth; 32 but as soon as it is sown it grows and becomes larger than all vegetables and produces branches so large that the birds of the sky can take shelter in its shade.”

In Palestine the smallness of the mustard seed was proverbial. Here Jesus wants to insist on the relationship between the humble beginnings of the Kingdom and its growth among men. This small seed becomes a large tree: the figure of the large tree is a Jewish figure that indicated the Kingdom of God (Ps 80; Ez 17.31; Dan 4). This tree, says Lamentations 4, will be the sign of the Messiah who will welcome all people and protect them all. There is only wonder, praise by adoring that God who crushes the cedars of Lebanon, as Ps 29 says, but makes this little seed of the Kingdom of God grow.

Why Jesus speaks in parables (4.33-34)

33 With many parables of this kind he spoke the word to them according to what they could understand. 34 He did not speak to them without parables; but in private, to his disciples, he explained everything.

These verses describe the absolute transcendence of the Kingdom which cannot be explained, but those who are “endo” understand it, that is, who live in the private life of Jesus: only by being with Jesus, only by loving Jesus, only by rooting ourselves in Jesus can we understand the Mystery of Kingdom.

Once again the Gospel of Mark is a Christological Gospel: it is only in private with the Lord that we are able to understand the Mystery of the Kingdom. You see the centrality of the figure of the Lord Jesus, and of our adherence to him. Matthew will talk about this Parable in another context, in a wisdom context, in a didactic context; here instead Mark insists on the need once again to adhere to the person of Jesus to understand the Mystery of the Kingdom.

There is a logic among these five Parables. There is a “red thread” that continues in crescendo from the first to the last. In the first parable, that of the sower (4.1-20), only a remainder of the seed bears fruit, a part of the seed is lost, among the stones and brambles, it does not produce. Only a small remainder welcomes the Word. This Word is the light that comes, the light that comes upon us (here is the second parable, that of the lamp on the bushel: 4.21-23). If we welcome the seed by measuring it as an enormous thing, making space for it, expanding our measure for it (this is the meaning of the third parable, that of measurement: 4.24-25), the seed grows on its own, “automate”, automatically (fourth parable: 4.26-28), and becomes the great tree of the Kingdom (fifth parable: 4.30-32) which gives conversion, joy and liberation to all men.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

Source

Spazio Spadoni

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