11TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
This weekend we celebrate the 11th Sunday of ordinary time and we hear once again the story of the mustard seed. Jesus seemed especially fond of using parables. In its form, the ancient Middle Eastern parable is an explicit comparison of one item or one person to another. Jesus’ parables tell his listeners what God is like by comparing God’s being or behavior to something familiar and known in the culture of the time. In olden days farmers would sow seeds in their lands and then simply wait. When a crop was ready they would reap it, using a scythe (“blade”).There followed a whole process, and the neighbors would gather with each farmer to help in each step. They would collect each other’s crops into stacks or “stooks” as they were called, so that by counting stooks each farmer could know how much grain to expect from his harvest. Threshing came next—separating the husks and straw from the grain—followed in these older cultures by winnowing, which detached the heavier grain from the lighter chaff.
The faith that we have handed down to us through the generations is represented in this Sundays Gospel by the mustard seed and it is something that all of us need to nourish. When the seed that is the Word of God takes root within us the Kingdom grows. We are called upon hearing the Word to meditate upon it in prayer so that it may take root in us and bear fruit in joy and virtue.
We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history the page on which the ‘today’ of God is written. (CCC 2705)
The Kingdom of God is like a tiny seed within each of us. It’s a strong seed, like those that push their way through cement in order to grow toward the light. Sometimes we nurture it and have expectations. Sometimes our expectations are fulfilled, sometimes not. Other times, we don’t know how, but we find ourselves bearing the fruits of joy, compassion, peace, generosity, faith-fullness, gentleness, and thanksgiving for the wonder of it all. Then we know our growth is a partnership and, while we can care for the seed, we can’t make it grow or flower or reproduce. I’m reminded of St Therese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower” who considered freedom to be in forgetting self, and walked her “way” on a path of dedication and awareness of the Holy One in the rather ordinary, boring, and annoying little things that make up our daily lives. The parable of the seed growing of itself which we hear this Sunday in the gospel reading shows us that there is an almighty power working for us. Our part is to do a good job preparing the soil and sowing the seed. Then we must let God take over, as God usually does. God and God’s work in us and among us will ultimately triumph let us not be afraid.