2 Samuel 11:1-10, 13-17
"To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God…"
In today’s Gospel we have two parables where Jesus uses two different images about seeds to express the mystery of God’s kingdom.
When our three children were each in their early years of school, they all were involved in that somewhat universal school project, you know the one, where you plant a seed in a little container, water it, put it on the classroom windowsill, and by the end of the school year it’s sprouted and grown. It’s a great lesson about patience and about how things work.
It’s also a lesson about the kingdom of God. Jesus uses seeds today to tell us what His kingdom is like and how we are called to be of service.
In the first parable, the seed is sown by the farmer and he simply waits for harvest time. The cycle of growth follows its own secret rhythm; how it happens the farmer does not know.
In the second parable, Jesus compares the kingdom to the little mustard seed that grows into the largest shrub so that the birds of the air can shelter and nest in it.
So what can we learn from these two kingdom parables about seeds? Well, several things.
The first is that the kingdom of God has a life of its own – with or without us. The farmer scatters the seed; but it grows into fullness on its own – even while he is asleep.
Our faith is a mysterious gift of grace from God… a gift that God brings to fullness within us. Faith is not something that we can manufacture within ourselves. God first put it on our hearts. As we pray and try to be of service to God’s people, in response to that seed of faith, God continues to bring our faith into greater maturity.
In the second parable, Jesus gives us that familiar comparison of the kingdom of God and a mustard seed that starts out so very, very small – yet ends up as the largest of plants.
Obviously then, we see that God can do much with very little. Each and every one of us can be used as instruments by God to accomplish great things for the kingdom.
Maybe we don’t want to think that way because if we do then we have to accept our responsibility to nurture that seed and to spread our faith. No one can exclude him or herself by claiming that our faith is insufficient. It only takes faith the size of a mustard seed. Others of us may not want to think this way because if we do, then we have to honor and reverence each and every human person who searches in any way for God. We have to put aside our differences and quit judging. Who knows, God may very well take someone whose faith is tiny and use that person to do great things, maybe for even greater things than he uses us !! Thinking this way requires a lot of humility on our part.
There are a lot of those mustard seeds out there – lots of them dropping to the ground awaiting an opportunity to grow. Our challenge is to nourish, and not judge, those whose faith is small…
Deacon Brian Clements is a retired member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California.