1. Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”
He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? 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 and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade”(Mk4:26-32). Taken from this Sunday’s gospel.
2.Jesus exercised his ministry in a time of political upheavals and religious expectations of the promised Messiah who would establish an unconquerable kingdom. At that time Jewish land was under foreign occupation of the great Roman Empire. When John the Baptist started his mission people already thought that he was the one but he told them that the one coming was mightier than him so much so that he judged himself unworthy to untie the thongs of his sandals. He finally designated Jesus as the long awaited one. With this everyone expected a change in the political life of the nation.
3.The first doubt about the super kingdom came when John the Baptist was imprisoned. He expected a miraculous deliverance which never came. He then sent messengers to Jesus asking if he was really the long awaited one. His doubt was also the doubt of his compatriots. All these prompted Jesus to explain the true nature of the kingdom that the Messiah would establish. He did this using to parables.
4. The first parable concerns a seed that once sown grows to maturity on its own without further human intervention. What makes the seed to grow does not concern the sower. He only comes back at harvest time. Jesus explains that it is the same with the kingdom of God. God works invisibly in advancing the cause of life in the world. He changes things from within. Even when he seems to be absent he is still fully at work. Man should therefore exercise patience because something is happening. That is why today’s second reading exhorts us to walk by faith and not by sight.
5. The second parable is about the grain of mustard which grew up to become a big tree that shelters animals and birds. Through this parable Jesus explains the great perspective of the kingdom which begins slowly but progresses to greatness. This is a call not to lose heart with the way things are with us. God is surely at work. It takes time for a grain to become a big tree. It will also take time for the grace of God to be fully manifest in our lives. From hindsight we now know that the small group of twelve that began with Jesus in Palestine succeeded in spreading the gospel to the ends of the world.
6. You can apply these parables to whatever you are going through today. Just sow the seed, God will make it to grow to maturity. Do not be so discouraged by the situations around you that you no longer do something to better your lot. Plant the mustard seed. God will at his time make it a big tree. Never grow tired of doing what is good because, as today’s second reading shows, God will not fail to reward any sincere effort. Keep doing something no matter how little and God will keep giving the growth in an invisible but real manner.
Peace and security upon you.