Hebrews 10:11-18 / Mark 4:1-20
The Lord speaks; “Their sins I will remember no more.”
Years ago, This Week magazine carried a moving story about a 17-year-old Dutch boy. He was a prisoner who was sentenced to death for trying to escape from a Nazi concentration camp. Before his execution he wrote to his father: “Read this letter alone, and then tell mother carefully....In a little while at five o’clock it is going to happen I feel so strongly my nearness to God. I am fully prepared to die....I have confessed all my sins ... and have become very quiet.”
When we confess our sins, do we really believe that God forgives them and remembers them no more? “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy Like the wideness of the sea.” Frederick William Faber
God succeeded implanting his law into the hearts of people through the obedience of Jesus. The new covenant is one that affects people in the deepest of themselves and disposes them to seek God’s will.
Why has the kingdom of God not taken deeper roots among us? Why does it grow so slowly? In today’s gospel, Mark states that this is a mystery of God’s efforts and people’s lack of depth and understanding. The kingdom is here among us, but it meets the slowing down resistance of people. It is hard to respond to the demands of the gospel, to be converted to God’s plan with us, to form a community that lives according to God’s norms and witnesses to God’s presence. Are we willing to be that community which promotes the growth of God’s kingdom?
It is a known fact that in some countries that are so-called "traditionally Catholic", church attendance has declined and, in some cases, declined drastically. If that is disturbing enough, then what is more disturbing are the statistics from the survey done in the Church in our own country, about two years ago. From those statistics, what is glaring and alarming is that two out of three Catholics are not going to church anymore. If we think that the survey is rather skewed in that it is inaccurate and misleading, then we may just have to look around us and be honest about the reality of things.
We know of at least some members of our own family, as well of those of our relations and friends, who have "dropped out" of church. Collectively, they can come up to quite a number. So what is happening? Why are they not coming to church anymore? Or have they gone to another church or what? Well, the reasons are as many as the seeds in the gospel parable that do not end up bearing a harvest.
But just as the sower will continue to sow, so must we continue to pray for those who have left the church. More than that, we also need to take stock of our faith and ask ourselves if we are bearing fruits of love and bearing witness to the joy of our life in Christ. When others see how we live out our faith, then they will know whether they are missing out on anything or not.
Let us pray
Lord our God, we experience day after day how difficult it is to accept you and to let your kingdom grow among us. Overcome our resistance, dispose us to accept you on your own terms, without any preconceived ideas. Let the seed of your Son’s Gospel bear rich fruit in us, that he may live and reign among us, now and for ever. Amen