Doctors of Church – Good News for January 28

28 01 2011

Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds, “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

He said, “To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

The Daily Path: Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas who was a priest and “doctor of the Church.” That leads me to a couple of thoughts. First, “What is church?” and second, “What is a doctor of the church?”

At risk of being branded “heretic” and excommunication at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition, here’s my interpretation:

I believe that church is each of us, the faith community. True church is all who hold God inside. It’s not a building. It’s not an organization. If anything divides on this earth it’s those two things. Church is coming together with God. If that is true then a doctor of church is one who aids in our spiritual health. One who helps us stay the course to and with God. A doctor of church is also one who plants the seed of God in others.

I believe each of us in our own way has the opportunity, perhaps even the obligation, to be doctors of church. Are you up for house calls?

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Private Lessons – Good News for January 29

29 01 2010

Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds, “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

He said, “To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

The Daily Path: Jesus explained everything in private…

The last two lines of Mark’s gospel are rich for consideration. We know that Jesus used parables extensively to teach the Way. For man, stories are the most engaging channel for a lasting education. From before the time of Christ, right up to the strategy behind Don Hewitt’s unprecedented success with CBS’ 60 Minutes news magazine, stories have captured our imagination like nothing else. (By Hewitt’s own admission, he borrowed his approach from the Bible!)

Yet, beyond the story, we also crave a deeper understanding of things. After class, Jesus would huddle with his disciples and provide “The Explanation” behind these stories. But how can we, some 2,000 years after Jesus returned to the Father in heaven, gather around the teacher for an explanation?

While there are many traditional paths to enlightenment, such as formal and informal study, I’ve come to understand that it’s through deepening our personal relationship with God that further enlightenment begins. That is where Jesus continues to offer us deeper insights as we reflect on the Word.

Room to Chat: Father, keep all who you’ve called to share their experience with You in the light of your presence.