All of us have heard Mark’s Gospel about the sowing of the seed many times. I think it is one of those Gospel stories that because of its familiarity, we seldom think about the multitude of messages that it contains.
One of the primary messages in Mark is at the end of this Gospel when he tells us that we are the seeds called to hear the Word and to BEAR FRUIT.
But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it
and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.
It is not enough to be the seed that falls on fertile ground, but to be truly Christian, we must bear fruit, we must ACT on the Word. It is not enough to passively hear the Word, but we must follow Christ’s example and LIVE the gospel. It was through the Crucifixion, Christ’s ultimate living out of the obedience and faith that he taught, that Christianity took root and grew. As Christians, we must also be ACTIVE recipients of the Word. We are called to bear fruit by spreading the Word to others through our ACTIONS.
So we can preach the Word to our neighbor but if we do not extend a loving hand to them when they are in need, we are not truly spreading the Word. We can tell our children about what God wants them to do, but if we don’t make our lives an example of the Gospel, we are not teaching the Word to them. We can attend Mass and resonate in the certainty of our Catholicism, but if we don’t act with love of others, regardless of their religious beliefs, we are not spreading the Word.
What an awesome responsibility Christ gives us. Not just to be the fertile ground that will take the seed and nourish it, but to be the very seed that bears fruit. Not just to listen to the Word and reflect on it, but to ACT on it. To live the Word, to love the world, to be Christian – that is what we are each called to do.
Mary Lou Butler is a member of the board at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California