Jesus normally uses parables when preaching to his hearers. In this Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 4: 26-34) Jesus gives us one of the major themes of his preaching, namely, the coming of the Kingdom of God.
Parables are everyday stories which hold a richness of wisdom. In parables, both similes and metaphors are used to persuade listeners. Jesus makes a practical and effective use of parables in a pedagogical way to inspire his audiences to make appropriate decisions because they are in response to spiritual deafness and blindness of listeners.
With Jesus’ parables, there is always a requirement of a suitable perception and understanding. Understanding his parables also requires a strong faith because to the crowds and to outsiders, parables pose a mystery, yet they are not drawn into its meaning. The use of parables is an effective teaching technique for notable stories and vibrant images drawn from their everyday life experiences engage the hearts and minds of the people.
The parables in this Sunday’s Gospel indicate that God promises the growth and final success of the Kingdom, and it would come soon with a great harvest. The parables use the image of a mustard seed to convey an idea of something small that has the potential of growing into something big. A mustard seed may be one of the smallest seeds but it can grow into a shrub of twelve feet in height. The Kingdom of God is like that. It grows gradually, and in time it will be fully established with spectacular results!
May we, in faith, be drawn into the mystery of the parables and receive the message of the coming of God’s Kingdom. May the seed that is God’s Word be sown and take root in our hearts and lives, correcting us, guiding us, purifying us and sanctifying us as we journey in faith.