How Will You Understand:Mark 4:13-25


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 root; 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.” He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” He also told them, “Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

As mentioned last week, here is where Jesus explains the parable He’d just given, to His followers; explaining in detail what He meant by His teaching. His explanation here does bring to light a paradox, which I’d like for us to explore. I had not considered this before.

So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.  (Isaiah 55:11)

The paradox? His word not returning to Him void…accomplishing what it was sent to do, and the explanation He gives of the parable. Is the word really accomplishing what God sent it forth to do? Some reject it, some hold on to it for a moment then let it go. Others let it get choked out and still others receive it and hold on to it; how do we reconcile this? Is God All-Powerful? Are His plans being thwarted by humanity?

There are extreme views on each side, from hyper-Calvinism to universal salvation, to Pelagianism with each school of thought supported by their own interpretation  of Scripture.

Let me pose the more moderate stance and state that indeed God’s word does accomplish all He sends it to do; it does not return to Him void. For He knows beforehand, to whom he sends it to and how it will, or will not, be received by humanity.

Why does God choose to work through  humanity? After all, He is the “All Powerful and Everliving God” He can certainly do things as He pleases. Yet throughout history, He has choesn to work through  mankind to accomplish His will, rather than by-pass mankind.

Let’s look at three examples, major events in salvation history, to describe what I mean.

  1. Abraham: called by God to leave his homeland and go to a place God would show him. He was also called to be the “father of a multitude,” a people that God would adopt and call His firstborn.
  2. Moses: called by God to bring His people out of the slavery of Egypt. He delivered to His people, the Law of God and lead them to the Promised Land.
  3. The Blessed Virgin Mary: called by God to be the mother of His only begotten Son. Along with her husband, St. Joseph, she was called to nurture, raise, teach and provide for Jesus, so that He in turn, could provide salvation for the world.

God could have done each of these things on His own, apart from any human participation, yet He did not. Why?

I think we can answer this question, simply by looking at the first creation account in Genesis. God created mankind, not because He was lonely or wanted fellowship (He had perfect fellowship within Himself in Trinitarian form). He created mankind from the abundance of His love.

Love that isn’t shared, does not exist. That may seem a bit philosophical, but I believe that the creation account, would prove this thought true.

Since we know that God is love ( I Jn. 4:16) and He created us in His image and His likeness (Gen. 1:26) we can experience Him in the fullness of love, which of course, is Himself.

So as we seek to understand the tension between predestination and free-will, the safest road to take to this understanding, would be the both/and  road. Since God is omniscient, He knows what we will choose…but we must still choose ! As Abraham, Moses and the Blessed Virgin Mary all had to say Yes,  and choose God, so must we.

So we begin to understand that His word will accomplish exactly what He intends it to, because He knows what we will choose to do. And in our choice to accept His word, we then get to participate in His Divine love. In His story of salvation and redemption.

As the Cathechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

50

By natural reason man can know God with certainty, on the basis of his works. But there is another order of knowledge, which man cannot possibly arrive at by his own powers: the order of divine Revelation.Through an utterly free decision, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. This he does by revealing the mystery, his plan of loving goodness, formed from all eternity in Christ, for the benefit of all men. God has fully revealed this plan by sending us his beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

So this week, let us, let His love shine forth from us like the lamp on the lampstand. And let us not keep hidden His word or His love, but let it be revealed through us, sharing the secret and light of this love, which is found in the Person of Jesus Christ. In this love, there is choice; so let us choose to love Him, because He first loved us ( I Jn. 4:19).

Amen.

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