It is the smallest of all seeds, and becomes the largest of plants. Mark 4:32
Happy Friday in the 3rd Week of Ordinary Time!
In today’s Gospel, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to seeds, scattered and grown. “If a man were to scatter seed on the land, the seed would sprout and grow, yet he knows not how. 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.” (Mark 4:26-27, 30-32a)
Do we see the Kingdom of God today in our own lives? It seems all too easy to lose sight of the vision of God’s kingdom. We see violence in our world and among political factions. Strife and clamorous discord loom over our communities, parishes, and families. People seem to be more polarized and less tolerant than ever. Maybe our own vision has eluded us and we have become discouraged. Maybe our vision for our lives, our relationships, and our world has become tarnished and clouded. Still, the promise remains that the vision Jesus paints of God’s kingdom will grow and flourish.
I remember, when I was a little boy, watching how the plants in our back-yard “farm” would get just a little bit bigger every day. My mother cared for the chickens, ducks, geese, and the other little animals, while my father, who, as a farmer with his father after he emigrated from Italy in the late 1930s, would tend to the plants and trees.
We had trees of oranges, apples, cherries, walnuts, persimmons, apricots, peaches – and grape-vines, basil, rosemary, lettuce, all kinds of vegetables. But what was really amazing was his radicchio.
He said the original seeds came with him on “the boat” from Italy, and he’d been growing plants which originated from those same seeds for, at that point, the better part of 40 years. Every season he would tend and water these plants with so much care and delight. Most of them would get eaten pretty quickly (I can still taste the way he made a salad), but a few he would let “go to seed” so he could remove, dry, and rest the pods for the next year. It always amazed me how many seeds would come from those plants… how many would grow from the gift of just one head of radicchio!
Well, guess what? We all plant seeds. Every moment. You never know how something you say or do will affect someone. The words coming out of our mouths can either hurt or heal. The actions we take and the steps we make can leave such a wonderful impression – or a poor one. Things we say and do have the potential to do great good, or great damage. And in turn, like plants that go to seed, the effects of what we do can spread far and wide, and become food for so many. It’s an amazing and scary thing to think…
Is this not the growing of the Kingdom of God in our world today? Are these not all seeds you and I plant on behalf of God?
So — What has blossomed in you as a result of seeds someone planted?
What seeds have you planted?
What seeds do you wish you had never planted?
Thank you for the gift of life growing in us and all around us.
Grant us the grace to carefully plant good seed of your most amazing love
in everything we do.
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Paul Puccinelli is Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Rita Parish in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center.