Sunday, June 17, 2012

My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. – Mother Teresa

(Gospel Text: Mk 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 through it all 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.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses parables of the growth of a seed to describe the Kingdom of God. In both parables, seeds, once scattered and sown, grow on their own accord. In the first parable, the scattered seeds yield fruit, and Jesus proclaims that the harvest has come. In the second, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to the smallest of seeds: the mustard seed. When this seed is sown, it grows to be one of the largest plants, a plant which provides shade for the birds of the sky. Jesus seems to imply that like a mustard seed, the Kingdom of God has humble beginnings on Earth, but will soon grow to be larger than all else. We cannot control the growth of a seed; likewise, we cannot control the growth of the Kingdom of God – it is natural!

The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem began this faith that we call Christianity, and it continues to grow today, providing shade for many.
Today’s reading challenges us to find the potential and the beauty in the little things. Just as a mustard seed grows into a large, beautiful plant, the smallest of actions and occurrences may be the beginnings of something much bigger. The Kingdom of God exists in the smallest of seeds: a child’s laugh, a “hello” to a stranger, a sharing of one’s faith story, a sharing of a meal, an acknowledgement of someone’s humanity.

On this weekend when we all stop the frenetic pace of life to honor and remember fathers, we have an opportunity to reflect on what really matters most in our lives. The ones who have "named" us, our fathers, have helped to give us our identity. They are a gift to be received from the very hand of God the Father. We should thank them if they are still with us, and shower them with affection. If not, we should still thank them, honor them, remember them - and continue to learn all we can from the example of their lives as we seek to live our own in love. 

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