As humans we think we are in control of most things. We have specialists to look after various aspects of our lives. We have midwives to help bring us into the world, we have doctors and nurses to look after us if we are sick, we have teachers to educate us and we have priests, deacons and religious to help us with spiritual matters; all nicely compartmentalised in a way that we can understand; each in carefully nurtured positions to help us with various tasks or at different stages of our life.
There are of course some things which we have not quite mastered yet, one of them being the weather, however, we have managed to develop ways of predicting it. Although we try to harness nature, with for example modern agricultural techniques; we are still unable to totally stop what we would see as the wrong plant growing in what we would see as the wrong place.
In our first reading today we hear that God decides where certain plants will grow, and sometimes God makes sure that we take notice by allowing things to grow in places we would never expect them to be. In this reading a shoot of a plant is taken to a high mountain and grows to become a huge tree. The prophet is talking about the Church, with Israel being the location of the original chosen people; with God allowing the people to sprout branches and bear fruit; a people and nation teaming with life of all sorts. A people, who will be admired and respected by their neighbours; not just because they are on a mountain; but because they are favoured by God. With God all things are possible, He chose the Israelites not because they were perfect; but because they were representative of the nature and form of all human beings.
In our Gospel we have Jesus speaking in parables, using agricultural terms to share the Word of God with His listeners. While the man in the parable may have thrown the seeds where he wanted them to grow, the birds of the earth may spread them further and the seed will grow and spread where it initially was not intended to go. In the same way, the Word of God was initially spoken in a few chosen places within what we now call the Holy Land. The seeds which were scattered at that time have been picked up and blown across the world. This was no accident; the Holy Spirit is the breeze which has lifted the original word and spread it throughout the world so that the harvest will be gathered from every corner of the earth.
The Apostles could only have dreamed of how far the Church has come in the 2000 years since they walked the earth; now those same Apostles have successors in every land, so that small mustard seed which was planted all those years ago, now forms the basis for natural justice and the legal systems throughout the world, these could be seen as the ‘birds’ which shelter in the branches of the tree. While many would not profess Christ, they still live in countries, which were once Christian countries and where the laws of the land are based on Christian principals.
That small mustard seed represents other aspects of our lives too. It can be embryonic of incredible things in our lives; do we nurture and water that seed? Do we move beyond our fears and self-imposed restrictions to allow the seed to come to fruition? For me, I often allow my fears to restrict my ambitions, listening to my doubts and allowing them to supress ideas or new opportunities. This affects how I live out my faith at times too. If I am to truly live out my faith, I need to weed out the fears and nurture the seeds which will allow me to recognise and use the gifts God has given me.
As we have heard, Jesus spoke to the people in parables and explained fully, afterwards to the disciples. By preaching in parables, Jesus would give the people stories which they could relate to and which made them think. These stories were not just to entertain, they were a way of Jesus explaining the word of God in a way that they were capable of understanding to the masses; by telling them stories they would be able to remember then they would also be able to retell the story allowing the word of God to spread further. By telling the parables in a way that made them think, they were not just being retold what was in the Torah (the Jewish scriptures) but were given an explanation of the meaning behind what was in the Torah and being taught to think for themselves how these lessons applied to them. Remember Jesus wants an intimate relationship with each of us. We are not expected to listen to the word of God without thinking about what we have heard and then considering what it is that God is saying to me/us today?
Mark’s Gospel recalled what Jesus said to the people and the disciples 2000 years ago, these same words, proclaimed in our Gospel at Mass are for us to think about and consider today. Jesus wanted an intimate relationship with the people back then and He wants the same with us today.
I read earlier this week a proverb, which I had never heard before, it read – “blessed are old people who plant trees knowing that they will never sit in the shade of their foliage.” (I tried to get a reference for this, but there appear to be too many roots for it – pardon the pun!). It prompted me to think that this is similar to the way our grandparents (natural and spiritual) shared their values, beliefs, knowledge and faith with us. We in our turn are called to sow the seed of faith for those who will come after us. What have we planted within our parish or within our family to benefit those whose faith will mature when we are no longer here? Remember the parable Jesus used spoke about the smallest of seeds growing into the largest of trees. What small thing have you to offer which can help our parish grow or which will help your own family and our community to grow in faith?
In our second reading we are reminded that our physical actions must be accounted for and are urged to make our home in the Lord. Remembering that Jesus wants an intimate relationship with each of us and that through our Baptism we are called to share our faith; in what we say, in what we do and in what we fail to do. As Christians we are expected to set a good example in everyday life, we are role models to other Christians and whether we like it or not to wider society.
Everyone of us has a seed of love sown within us when we were born, that seed has been watered and fed by the love bestowed upon us throughout our lives by God and those around us. As we become mature that seed of love matures and we are able to shelter those in need within the branches of our love, this in turn feeds the seed of love within them and they grow in their love of themselves and of those around them. Their love for God will also grow as a result of this. All of this stems from the Word of God, who was made flesh and lived among us, He came to shine the light of God’s love on everyone of us and He invites you and me and every other person who has ever been born to an intimate loving relationship. It is up to us to respond to that relationship, it is also up to us to make sure that the invitation we have received is still able to be heard when we no longer walk the earth. Sow seeds of love now, we may never shelter in the branches of the seeds we sow, but those branches will shelter others in need and God’s love will continue to grow as the Kingdom of God grows.
Please keep in your prayers
- The continued success of the Belong and Believe course.
- Those attending the last session of the RCIA Course on Wednesday.
- Those preparing for ordination to the Priesthood and Permanent Diaconate.
- The Year of the Eucharist, which has now started, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
- Those who have been unable to receive the Eucharist during the pandemic.
- The seven families who will start the Baptism Preparation Course this Sunday.