June 13, 2021: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the reign 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, how, no one knows. 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 reign of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard see 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.
Jesus’ parables always give us images that can stick and stay with us. And, his unexpected outcomes are meant to challenge our assumptions and preconceived notions. Perhaps we too need to revisit our image of the kingdom of God and our role as seed sowers.
Jesus says: “This is how it is.” Seed sowing is essential to the growth of the kingdom. But once sown, we are not in control of the life and potential within the seed – God is. Seeds will do what seeds do; they grow. And they will grow in the most unlikely places. Even the tiniest of seeds has the potential to have a huge impact. An impact that might just surprise us.
In Jesus’ time, the black mustard bush was not highly thought of. Although it could grow to be large, tree-like and bushy, it’s an invasive weed that is difficult, if not impossible to control – few boundaries can stop it. And yet, as it rapidly spreads it provides community, shelter and protection to birds of every sort.
Maybe this weed is not the image we would have picked. But is it an image we can live with?
This week, google “black mustard bush.” Take time to sit with one or more of the images. Does the picture fit with your image of the kingdom of God? If not; why not? Pray for the ability to see what Jesus saw in this bush-like weed.