ELEVENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
Our Gospel story today is the parable of the sower and we see how the farmer (GOD) has sown a tiny seed (FAITH); we see how he watches and waits for it to bear fruit. Jesus makes a comparison between the small and negligible start and the extraordinary results and we see many of these results in the spiritual lives we are celled to lead. The farmer is in no hurry; he simply sits, waits and lets things happen having sown the seed. Whatever happens will take its own time and the farmer must certainly not hurry its growth. He does not try to find out how this happens, but allows things to develop as they will. From God’s perspective, things are often not what they appear to be at first. The tiny mustard seed may seem small and insignificant, but within it looms something so very valuable, a vital part of creation. This parable helps us to realize that size can be deceiving? It helps us to understand that out of a small thing can come something wonderful and Spiritually powerful. The Church grew from a small mustard seed into what it is today that is something wonderful and Spiritually powerful in every generation past present and moving on into the future. Of course there are those within the Church who have let us all down in many ways and not least in recent years through the various scandals that have taken place, the life of faith is never easy. In this parable, Jesus spoke about the truth that smallness has its strengths, advantages and possibilities. Smallness is a theme to which Jesus returned again and again in his ministry. And we know, too, that smallness was the basis on which the church began and in which the church continues to flourish.The church operates best when it carries into larger ministries the insights and techniques of smallness. We are at our best when we engage as individuals in reaching out to the other person because we have but one ministry as an example – that of Jesus himself. He gathered around him a small band of followers, totalling at best two dozen people. He worked closest with a select band of 12 who gathered with him at the Last Supper and heard his message of servanthood. When the church began as a small mustard seed, it was empowered by the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost to carry the good news of Christ out into the world. It found expression in a small group of 11 who became empowered by the risen Lord in the upper room and grew into such a faith filled group of people. The people Jesus chose to carry on his work were, by the world’s standards, small men – fishermen, unlearned, probably illiterate. One was a despised tax collector. They were simple ordinary people. Some of his band of followers were the very rejects of society. By all outward signs and appearances, they were small people. This, of course, was based on the judgment and standards of quantity, wealth education and worldly power. But in God’s eyes, they can be seen as the greatest of people. And we learn that, in the midst of the world that has a culture that idolizes the big the bold and the beautiful whilst waiting on the next BIG THING to come along, for us Catholic and Christian people generally there is a faith that honours the smallness and stillness in life that is the kind of smallness and stillness with which Jesus worked. This smallness means maintaining concern for individuals, providing opportunity for looking after everyone, promoting a feeling of worth and good in everyone, we meet making sure that all are interconnected, so that, for example, there is somebody to miss you when you are absent for whatever reason and then somebody to say how are you, to ask where you have been and how you are doing when you return. The Stillness means that we stop from time to time to recharge the batteries of faith so that the Mustard Seed of Faith can grow as the father intended. From the right kind of “small thinking and stillness of soul and spirit” can flow the values and mission that Jesus gave to his first followers who have passed it on to us. down through every generation to the present time.
The parable of the sower is all about you and me when we stop to really think about things we see how God has sown a tiny seed that is the seed of faith within each of us and we see how he watches and waits for it to bear fruit in us and through us for other people. This particular parable reminds us it is not the size of the seed planted that is important, but what counts is what grows up from that tiny seed. And what grows up from the tiny seed should be a life filled and lived in Faith and hope.
As I write this we are in the middle of the 80th Eucharistic Congress Week. I hope that all who have taken part in the week by their attendance or for those who were unable to be there in person spiritually by their prayer will be richly blessed. The Church in Ireland that is one and all of us have begun our Journey along the road of renewal. Yes it is our journey along a road less travelled with all its bumps and turns good and bad some better than others and some simply awful. On this day we recommit ourselves to renewal of our faith renewal of spirit and Soul. The faith from the tiny mustard seed, The faith of the upper room, the faith of Jesus Christ this is such a rich inheritance for us in our time may we not be afraid to embrace it in our generation and pass it on so that future generations will have the faith, that is faith in God and one another