Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

11th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: THE PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED

Mk 4: 26-34


THE WORLD IS changing and developing. We often hear this phrase and often the change and development would refer to infrastructures. If one tries to re-visit a certain place which he/she has visited five or ten years ago, he/she would marvel at the sight. Especially in the modern cities, there is a movement towards growth and development. And we are delighted to see this progress.

The gospel passage we have this Sunday is one of the so-called Parables of the Kingdom. There are two parables narrated to us by Jesus in order to describe the kingdom of God. Both are parables of the seed, and they speak about growth and fullness of the Kingdom.

Firstly, the two parables speak about the seed. In the first parable, we heard of a man “who scatters seed on the land”. In the second parable, we heard of a mustard seed, which is typically grown in the Holy Land.

Most of plants and trees that we grow start with seeds. Once buried on the ground, the seed dies, sprouts and grows. In the same way, the Kingdom of God begins with a seed. But what is that seed? We can think of many things. It can be our Catholic faith which has been planted in us when we received the sacrament of Baptism. Also, it can be the Word of God which has been scattered or planted in us. This Word of God guides us and enlightens us in our life. So, the kingdom of God begins with a seed of Catholic faith, or with a seed of God’s Word.

Secondly, the two parables speak about growth and development. The kingdom of God has its humble beginnings. It begins with a simple seed, and it slowly sprouts and grows until it reaches its final and fulfilled stage.

In both parables, the farmer has no idea ‘how’ the seed grows. The text says, “Through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.” Because there is a hand of God in the process of growth. The grace of God is responsible for the growth of the Kingdom of God. The text further says, “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.”

I have seen a mustard seed and I have also seen a mustard shrub during my visit to the Holy Land. Indeed, one can agree with Jesus with his description of a mustard seed “as the smallest of all seeds”. One can even hardly hold that seed. And it is unimaginable that such a small seed would grow into a shrub (like a guava tree in the Philippines).

The growth that we speak of here is obviously a work of God or the grace of God. So, on the one hand, the kingdom of God grows gradually through God’s working in us. God is responsible for the unexpected growth and development of the kingdom. However, on the other hand, we can also be contributors to the growth of the kingdom. The grace of God must be accompanied with a human cooperation. St Paul describes the kingdom of God as a “kingdom of justice, peace and joy”. So, if we allow the kingdom of God to grow more fully in our midst, then we should contribute to the Church’s work of justice and peace.

However, there is another aspect of the Kingdom of God which is “not-yet” or that will come in the future. In the second reading, Paul reminds us of the fact this we are on a journey towards the kingdom of God where Christ is. The journey to this kingdom is a journey which must be approached with faith. Hence Paul reminds us: “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” If we only use our bodily eyes, we can think of the present world as already the kingdom or our destination. But our faith tells us that we have a future with God. In this regard, we need to walk towards this destination diligently, so that in the end, we shall be admitted into God’s kingdom. AMEN.


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