GOSPEL READING (Mk 4: 26-34)
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 through it all 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.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
Reflection, by Fr. Aldo, sx
The Gospel of today gives us two parables, both with agricultural themes. The first one opposes the power and richness of the soil with the work of the farmers. No matter what they do, whether they sleep or are awake, the seed sprouts and grows. Within the seed there is an inner force changing it first into grass, then a stalk and finally wheat. The people listening to Jesus are perfectly aware of this process. God is the main farmer and we are just his assistants. If we fail to understand that God takes the initiative, our own contribution is incorrectly situated. Thus, welcoming the Kingdom, making its message of love, justice, and freedom ours means acknowledging the power of God in our lives and acknowledging him as the artisan of history.
The second parable is about the apparent smallness of the Kingdom and the danger that it may not appear visible to us. The mustard seed appears to be insignificant; nevertheless it contains the potential of becoming a large tree. The Kingdom is like that; its beginnings do not announce all that is to come. At first the Kingdom is proclaimed in Galilee, of little value; its proclaimer frightens the powerful of his time, and they condemn him to a humiliating death, hoping that no one would ever remember what he had said and done. But its seeds are sown in history and the tree keeps growing, always humble, yet vigorous and green.
Its fruitsare found in testimonies like those of Fr. Salvatore Deiana (a Xaverian Missionary born in Italy). He did not go to Brazil to be killed; he went there to give his life, his friendship, skill and work, showing solidarity with the poor every day. He came from a peaceful, religious and prosperous country, yet he was murdered in the midst of a people who, at the time, had perhaps only their death to express life. The Lord made the seed of the Kingdom grow in Fr. Salvatore. When he would get up and go to bed, day and night, the Kingdom was growing in him with a power that he himself may not have perceived. His status as missionary, foreigner, not mastering the local language, powerless and outsider could represent well the insignificance of the mustard seed. Yet the Lord has converted his humility into a great tree that shades us and in which the concern for the poor makes its nest. Does the major concern that keeps on growing within you have anything to do with the Kingdom?