Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

(Hebrews 10:32-39; Mark 4:26-34)

Peter Maurin co-founded the Catholic Worker newspaper along with Dorothy Day.  He had a genius for reducing the formal language of Catholic social doctrine into pithy statements exuding common sense.  He called these reductions “easy essays” which readers of the newspaper cherished.  A typical essay reads,

The world would be better off
if people tried to become better.
And people would become better
if they stopped trying to become better off.

Maurin’s Easy Essays are much like Jesus’ parables in today’s gospel.  Mark the Evangelist tells us that Jesus uses parables so that ordinary people might grasp his teaching.  For example, Jesus describes God’s kingdom as seeds growing in a field and a mustard seed – common realities in the Palestinian countryside.  To be sure, the dynamic of God’s kingdom is more complicated so Jesus gives a fuller explanation to his disciples in private.

We have a problem in appreciating Jesus’ parables because we do not live in first-century Palestine.  But we have an advantage over the people who heard Jesus preach.  We have been taught to see Jesus himself as a kind of parable.  We recognize him as a man who reveals to us all the love of a transcendent God.