Gospel Reflection – 11th Week in Ordinary – Cycle B – Mark 4:26-34

Jesus used parables to explain the Kingdom of God. Whilst this form of explanation was elusive, it directly mined the experience of the listeners, by tapping into their understanding of life. Jesus lived in a farming community that understood crops, sowing and harvests, and this is what he used to explain the Kingdom. That Christ used these and many more parables is, to us, a tantalising thought. We only know of the stories that were documented in the Gospels. There would have been many, many more. But even these are more than enough to give us clarity on Jesus’ way in to showing a community how to think of heaven.
Jesus goes to great, personal lengths to let us know and understand him. His ultimate humanity speaks to our broken humanity, for he knows what it is to be broken: nailed to a Cross and derided. And he is also fully God: the Father sent his Son into the world that we may be saved. So, from the very beginning, we see this extraordinary opening of the ways of God towards human understanding.
It is worth considering, this week,  what parables Christ would use now, in today’s world, to explain the Kingdom of God. To talk of updating the Gospel is useless, because the Gospel is in one sense timeless. But it was also written at one particular time, and that presented a very different culture to ours, alarmingly different, indeed. What would we, as contemporary writers, document of Christ’s life were he to live in corporeal form today? There is no doubt he would have used commerce, Internet, social media and TV to explain the Kingdom of God.
It is worth taking the daily Gospel reading and summarising what it means for us. Perhaps, even, how Jesus would have put the words to a contemporary audience. The process is part of a greater prayerful experience that we monks use, called Lectio Divina, in which we take a Gospel passage and mull it over, like a fine wine, listening for the Spirit to speak to us through the words. What do we hear more than anything? What, through our gentle prayerful musing and sifting, is the message that Jesus gives? Let us, this week, walk around in today’s Gospel, and let it speak to us in as vibrant a way as it caught the attention of those men and women who tilled the earth two thousand years ago.


The Lord be with you
And with your spirit.
A reading from the Gospel according to Mark 4:26-34
Glory to you, O Lord

Jesus said to the crowds:
‘This is what the kingdom of God is like.
A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’
He also said,
‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it?
It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’
Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it.
He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.