Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

(Hebrews 10:11-18; Mark 4:1-20)

”It is greater than God and more evil than the devil. The poor have it, the rich need it and if you eat it, you'll die. What is it?” This riddle may challenge even ingenious people. The solution, by the way, is “nothing.” Nothing is greater than God or more evil than the devil. The poor have nothing, and the rich lack nothing. If one eats nothing, he or she will die. In the gospel today Jesus is suggesting that his parables will sound like such a riddle for those who do not believe.

Jesus’ assertion that those outside the kingdom will “see but not perceive” is paradoxical. For believers a parable aids understanding. But if one lacks faith, parables will either appear as riddles or, alternatively, fantasies. In the case at hand, comparing preaching the word to casting seed will make sense to the believer who realizes that faith must be nurtured or it will die. But unbelievers cannot extract any sense from the story.

At the moment faith appears to be a withering commodity. Some expressly deny it. More often people simply do not practice it. But this is not the first time in history that faith has waned. We can only pray for these people that their hearts will change so that they may reap the abundant blessings that faith brings.