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Luke 8: 4-15 – Week 24 Ordinary Time, Saturday (King James Audio Bible KJV, Spoken Word)

4 ¶ And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:
5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience

In teaching his parables, Jesus draws on a range of lived experience which would be familiar to his listeners. Often the parables describe work situations, reminding us that we are to root our Christian faith in a life that is useful to others, and that the whole texture of our lives should reflect our love of Jesus.

Jesus’ parables convey veiled meanings, which not be immediately apparent on first reading. Here we are asked to think of our Christian faith as a seed that is sown within us, and to reflect upon the quality of the soil that is ourselves – Are we blessed with good soil, such that we will be able to bring forth a plentiful harvest from that original seed? We are invited to open our hearts in love of Jesus. We may imagine Jesus’ audience discussing the meaning of the parables, creatively interpreting the parables as they work to discover the meaning. This very active way of engaging with and seeking to understand the parables would enrich their meaning greatly. The meaning of the parables then would not be merely theoretical knowledge, but would be experiential, lived with, grappled with, worked with, becoming part of who they and we are.

It may seem strange to us that Jesus does not want to explain the parables to everyone. The reason our Lord gives may also seem challenging. Our reading suggests that there is an intentional exclusivity, the explanation being withheld from the many so that they might not perceive and understand.

We understand that those with Jesus as he explains the parables are those who have experienced conversion. They have witnessed Lord Jesus’ miracles and heard his teaching and they have welcomed Jesus into their hearts. The seed of faith has been sown within them, and the parable of the sower teaches them to hope that in the future they may preach the Gospel widely and convert many more to the Lord.

It is only gradually, with time, that the full mystery of Jesus, God incarnate, will be revealed to the many. Jesus must complete his mission, he must suffer on the cross to heal mankind, and this in itself requires much failure of recognition on the part of the people and religious authorities of Jerusalem.

Jesus asks us also to live closely with him as we read and understand the parables. We are invited by reading the Bible to be with Jesus as his friends. During the life of Jesus as he accomplished his ministry, it was necessary that much of the truth would be hidden. Now, however, the great gift of salvation has been revealed.

Concluding Prayer | Love Revealed By Jesus Christ

Send forth the light of the holy Spirit on us,
Lord God, almighty Father,
subject as we are to your divine majesty:
so that safe from every foe,
we may always rejoice
as we celebrate your praise.
Through Christ our Lord.