Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 4, 1-20

Again he began to teach them by the lakeside, but such a huge crowd gathered round him that he got into a boat on the water and sat there. The whole crowd were at the lakeside on land.

He taught them many things in parables, and in the course of his teaching he said to them,

'Listen! Imagine a sower going out to sow.

Now it happened that, as he sowed, some of the seed fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Some seed fell on rocky ground where it found little soil and at once sprang up, because there was no depth of earth;

and when the sun came up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away.

Some seed fell into thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it produced no crop.

And some seeds fell into rich soil, grew tall and strong, and produced a good crop; the yield was thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.'

And he said, 'Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!'

When he was alone, the Twelve, together with the others who formed his company, asked what the parables meant.

He told them, 'To you is granted the secret of the kingdom of God, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables,

so that they may look and look, but never perceive; listen and listen, but never understand; to avoid changing their ways and being healed.'

He said to them, 'Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables?

What the sower is sowing is the word.

Those on the edge of the path where the word is sown are people who have no sooner heard it than Satan at once comes and carries away the word that was sown in them.

Similarly, those who are sown on patches of rock are people who, when first they hear the word, welcome it at once with joy.

But they have no root deep down and do not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, at once they fall away.

Then there are others who are sown in thorns. These have heard the word,

but the worries of the world, the lure of riches and all the other passions come in to choke the word, and so it produces nothing.

And there are those who have been sown in rich soil; they hear the word and accept it and yield a harvest, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus is no longer in the house in Capernaum, but on the shores of the lake. Here there is more space to accommodate the people who come to listen to Jesus. In fact, that day a lot of people gather around him. And Jesus “again began to teach,” notes the evangelist. The frame is striking: we can imagine the crowd like an amphitheatre along a small creek while Jesus, from a boat, starts talking to the people thirsting for words of truth for their lives. The Evangelist collects various parables in this chapter. It is typical way Jesus turns to the crowds. The language is not abstract, but very real, related to daily life. Everyone can understand it, but it demands watchful attention, i.e., an interest of the heart, in order to understand in depth the simplicity of the images. The parable that is placed at the beginning is one of the most famous and important of the Gospel. It is no coincidence. And Jesus makes this clear from the very first word he utters, “Listen!” Yes, listening is crucial when you are in front of Jesus. The whole parable that Jesus tells is all aimed to show the decisiveness for the disciples to hear his word. It is the well-known parable of the sower. Jesus considers it so important to say to his disciples that if they do not understand it, they cannot even understand the others. In fact, unlike other times, he explains it directly. Jesus speaks of sowing the Word of God in the hearts of men and women. What is striking, first of all, in this narrative is the generosity of the sower who sows the seed everywhere and in large quantities, although he has hard soils and not very welcoming soils in front of him. There is a clear contrast between the generosity of the sower and the non-reception of the earth. The failure, however, does not deter the sower; he continues to go out and sow. The different fields do not represent different categories of people, but each of us at different times and in the different ways in which we listen to the Gospel. Sometimes our heart is like the road, really hard and impenetrable. The Word of God is preached relentlessly, but we do not let it scratch our hearts. And everything goes on as usual for us. At other times, our heart is dominated by concerns for ourselves and, even when we listen to the Gospel, the mass of the concerns that we have floods it as the thorns that choke the ground. Other times we are more careful, ready to welcome the Word of God. And so come the fruits of love, goodness, mercy, and solidarity. The Gospel should be listened to with an open heart, available, and with care. In this way, it is similar to a ploughed ground and ready to welcome the seed. And the seed is always a small thing, just as the Gospel, and it needs available and ready soil. Jesus continues to sow it today with generosity. Happy are we if we welcome it and make it grow. The fruits are valuable for us and for the world.