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June 16, 2024: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel: Mark 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.


One of my professors in graduate school used to say frequently, “You never know how far your influence may reach.” As a teacher and school administrator, I know this is true, despite limited empirical data.

I think it’s a fair conservative estimate to say that in my career, I have taught over one thousand students. Due to one circumstance or another, and with a few exceptions, I rarely see them after the last day of school.

Therefore, I can’t say for certain that they are or are not using the principles I attempted to impart while in my class. What I do know is that for the less than one percent I have encountered later, even fewer provide feedback.

Those that have truly have surprised and inspired me, because their takeaway generally had nothing to do with the lesson plan, but it had everything to do with how I made them feel while under my guidance.

“If we have the faith of a mustard seed” is often used as an encouragement for perseverance; don’t give up, because it only takes a tiny bit of trust from you for God to do great things. I won’t argue that point at all.

However, let’s consider another view. If the way we are perceived by others is the mustard seed, we may not be around when the full tree blooms, but our “seeds” of attitude, behavior, and treatment of others will (for better or worse) go far.

Whether we know it or not, whether we intend it or not, the seeds we sow every day take root – some good, some ill. Jesus calls us in this parable to be more mindful of the seeds we’re sowing.


Reflect on a time when you may have helped or comforted someone; give thanks for this gift of Providence.

Has there been a time when you may have caused injury with your words or (in)actions? Ask for the grace to do better in the days ahead. Consider this prayer as a model.

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Brad Crites

Brad Crites

Brad Crites is a Providence Associate and former webmaster and adjunct faculty member at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. He specializes in teaching and learning as well as organizational culture and change dynamics. He is committed to philanthropy and community development as a Lilly Scholar Alumnus. He currently works for Purdue University as an Educational Technology Consultant. Brad lives with his wife, Tiffany, and their children, Brooklyn and Brett, on their historic family farm near Solsberry, Indiana.

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