Saint Mark

Saint Mark, the Evangelist was writing about 40 years after the time of Jesus.  It was a time of crisis.  The new phenomenon of Christianity, like all such movements was falling off a little.  The early enthusiasts were thinning out.  Paul and Barnabas had their troubles too. 

They were not at one on some of the traditions and doctrines of the new community. There were more worrying problems also: Self-proclaimed prophets and healers were springing up and distorting the message for their own advantage. 

I think that we today can identify with what must have been a difficult time for the early Church: disagreements on doctrine and moral teaching, self-proclaimed experts and visionaries, moral standards falling, violence and crime, lack of respect for pillars and persons in society.

Mark gathered together five parables of Jesus to instruct the people, who were seeking, as to what the Kingdom of God is like.  Today’s Gospel has two of these parables.  The kingdom of God like the seed which grows in the hiddenness of night as well as in the light of day.  And the mulberry seed holds out the promise of a huge expansion from the tiniest of beginnings.  This theme of ‘seeds and growth’ is used by the Lord throughout his ministry and it is one we most of us can appreciate.

 But then Mark has an intriguing comment to make: ‘He would not speak to them except in parables, but explained everything to his disciples when they were alone’.

Large crowds of people heard the parables of Jesus but they stayed outside the circle of believers.  But, it seems that those who were called disciples received the gift of further instruction and insights into the teachings of Jesus.  They were the ones who began to see the parables as part of their life – to form them in the ways of Lord.  The call of the Lord is to ‘repent and believe’.  To believe is to hear the story and to know that I am part of it.  It involves me.

‘When they were alone’!  The Lord still takes us aside, to be alone.  The Scriptures can only be understood when the Lord opens them up to us.  The parables still do have a message for each of us and we learn that in the moments we spend alone with the Word of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ.