Devoured, Scorched, and Choked
Gospel Reflection for January 24th, 2024
Today, we hear the parable of the Sower from the Gospel of Mark. In it, we find a striking illustration of what seems to be a minority of listeners accepting the word of God. Christ tells us:
"Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold." He added, "Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear." Mark 4:3-9
Our Lord speaks of four kinds of people in this parable, each of these people hears the Word of God, but each does something different with what is heard. The Sower is Christ Himself, the Eternal Word of God who has come to reveal God to the people. The soil in which the seed falls represents the level of acceptance of the person receiving it.
The first type of person is one who hears the word but is immediately corrupted by Satan. This is represented by the birds which come and devour the seed. The birds represent the devil devouring the word that is spoken to these people. This is indicative of those who have closed themselves off to God and have made their soil like a road that cannot receive seed.
The second type of person is one who hears the word, but their soil is rocky, and the seed cannot take root. Our Lord mentions that these are the type of people who accept the word at first but when faced with tribulations and sufferings of this life, ultimately reject it to save their lives. They fall away from the faith because the road is too hard and so these seeds are scorched by the sun and burned up.
The third type of person is one who hears the word, but they are strangled by the thorns of this world. This is compared to the allure of this world, the riches, fame, and pleasures that it offers. They hear the word, and it takes root but their love for the world overcomes their love for God. These are choked by the inordinate pleasures of the world and fall victim to the sins of the flesh.
Finally, the last type of person is the one who hears the word and allows it to take root and flower in their lives. They accept it and bear fruit because of it. They are ones who act on the words of Christ and walk behind Him, carrying their crosses through the end. This doesn’t mean that they won’t face assaults from the devil, great persecutions, or the temptations of the world. In reality, they will face those things to a great degree, but they will overcome them by the grace of God.
This is what separates the people in the last group from the first three. They face the same challenges and temptations, but they do not allow the evil, fear, or inordinate pleasure to sway them from God and His word. They may even fall from time to time, but through God’s grace, they return to Him with repentant hearts. We ought to strive to be in the final group. No doubt, we will come up against our share of evil attacks, persecution for the faith, and attraction to inordinate pleasures. Will we be devoured, scorched, or choked, like the first three groups, or will we persevere to the end? Strive to enter by the narrow gate.