11th Sunday OTB

Ezek 17:22-24                      2 Cor 5:6-10             Mk 4:26-34

Dear friends! A farmer and His brand new bride were riding home from the chapel in a wagon pulled by a team of horses, when the older horse stumbled. The farmer said, “That`s once.” A little further along, the poor old horse stumbled again. The farmer said, “That`s twice.” After a little while the poor old horse stumbled again. The farmer didn`t say anything, but reached under the seat, pulled out a shotgun and shot the horse. His brand new bride scolded him, “That was an awful thing to do!” The farmer said, “That`s once.” Many people don’t have patience anymore. 

Mark 4:1-34 records the parable of the seed’s growth. Using the mini-parables of the growth of wheat seeds and mustard seeds in the field, Jesus explains in today’s gospel, the nature of the growth of the kingdom of God or rule of God in human beings and human societies. In the case of both wheat and mustard seeds, the initial growth is slow, mysterious and unnoticeable. But within days a leafy shoot will emerge, and within months a mature plant with numerous branches and leaves, flowers and fruits will be produced.  

The growth is silent and slow but steady, using power from the seed in the beginning and transforming absorbed water and minerals in the later stages. Growth doesn’t take place because of our understandings or manipulations. It is God’s initiative that brings forth growth. We need to be patient and not give up, because sometimes growth takes longer than we expect. God works in ways we don’t understand. 

In Jesus’ parable of the seed growing of itself what is stressed is the certainty of the harvest once the sower has done his job. It was meant to give encouragement to those early disciples who had become discouraged because little seemed to be happening. It was telling them to be patient, to trust, and not to expect instant results. It is a very encouraging little parable. 

Like those early disciples we too want results and want them fast. We live in the age of the instant product. We have instant soup, instant tea, and instant photos…pretty well instant anything. We know that the quality suffers, but we are willing to sacrifice that for quick results and time and effort saved.  

We forget that certain things cannot be rushed. Our age could also be called the age of the push button. To grow to maturity as a human being is the job of a lifetime. To build a good relationship with someone, takes time. To get to know and understand one’s children takes time, to bringing up one’s children well takes years. Acquiring skills and knowledge takes life time. To overcome one’s sins and weaknesses takes time. To build up a good and loving church community takes time. We don’t have push buttons for these. In other words, for some things there are no shortcuts. Some people think they must always be up and doing – as if everything depended on them. They are unable to take time out, to let things be, to trust, to be patient, to be humble, to wait.  

There is something we must do, and which God will not do for us. All that God wants us to do is that we sow seeds of faith, of justice, of compassion and live in order to make this world a better place to live. Having done this we must wait. The lovely little parable of the seed growing of itself shows us that there is an almighty power working for us. Our job is to sow the seed. Then God has to take over. And God does. Any farmer will tell you that. If we do the right thing, the harvest will come. But can we be patient, can we wait, can we trust? 

Let me conclude with a simple story: In a restaurant, a family of five bowed their heads in prayer before beginning to eat. One of the children, a girl of about ten, expressed thanks for the entire family in a hushed voice, her head bobbing expressively. A few moments later a couple, on their way to pay their check, paused at the family’s table. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen anyone do that,” said the man, extending his hand to the father. The father smiled and replied, “It was strange at first, but we always express thanks at home before we eat. The children continued it when we went to restaurants, so we just went along with it, and now it’s our way.” The woman who had come up to the table patted the little girl on the shoulder and, obviously touched, looked at the mother and said, “Don’t ever stop. It means a lot to those around you.” It seems like such a little thing, but it was a witness. The seeds of the kingdom are little, and we are called to scatter them.