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Monday, June 1, 2015

Today’s Reading | Luke 8:1–15

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’ “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. (NRSV)

Reflection
If the gospel has the power to transform lives and change the world, ideally it would be easy to understand and communicate. So why does Jesus go out of his way to talk about the good news of God’s kingdom in parables and cryptic metaphors? What’s with all the doublespeak and allegory? Why does he seem intent on keeping some people in the dark?

The Hebrew prophets, Jesus, and the Book of Revelation employ phrases like “ears to hear” and “eyes to see” to indicate that spiritual truths are rarely obvious and simple. Apocalyptic literature was written in code in order to spread subversive and radical visions that challenge the status quo. Jesus’ parables are like Zen kōans that bend our minds and challenge us to think about the world in new ways.

Whether it is reading the Bible, engaging popular culture, experiencing nature, or navigating relationships, those with ears to hear and eyes to see know that the way of Jesus draws us beyond superficialities. It seems that God wants us to work a little as we grow in faith. After all, if spirituality and wisdom were simply handed to us they wouldn’t be nearly as meaningful.

The gospel may not be a quick fix or a catchy sound bite, but it does transform lives and change the world. As Jesus puts it, with patient endurance it bears much fruit.

Prayer
Gracious God, give me eyes to see and ears to hear the mysteries of your love for us in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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