January 29, 2021 (readings)
- Friday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time
- Fr. James Swanson, LC
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.” 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.
Opening Prayer: Lord, let my prayer be fervent so that I see myself and the world more spiritually—the way you see me, the person you always hoped I would be.
1. God Makes the Plant Grow: Farmers work hard. They worked even harder in Jesus’s time, but for all the work they did, they couldn’t make a plant grow—even today’s farmers cannot make a plant grow. What is the farmer’s job then? To help the plant grow. A farmer removes obstacles to a plant’s growth, like weeds. The farmer also gives the plant what it needs to grow and be healthy, if necessary, like water and fertilizer. The farmer provides the best conditions for the plant to grow and the plant responds by growing. Jesus tells us that his kingdom is like this. We don’t make it grow. God does. Our job is to provide the best conditions for the kingdom to grow, first of all in our hearts and then in the hearts of those around us.
2. Small Beginnings: God can bring amazing results from small beginnings. When the right conditions are present, the growth of the kingdom is amazing. Jesus compares it to a mustard seed, which is about the size of a period at the end of a sentence. Yet the full-grown plant is large. As a boy, I often saw wild mustard as tall as five or six feet, and under perfect conditions they are supposed to grow as tall as eight feet. Jesus was emphasizing how small the beginning of the Church would be. So small as to be almost invisible, the Church would grow to provide shelter to Catholics for thousands of years.
3. Lazy Farmers: How often we worry about the Church today. God’s kingdom sometimes seems to be disappearing from our society. Jesus is telling us in this parable that the opposite should be happening. With the right care, even a much smaller Church could transform society. Where are today’s farmers to sow the seeds, to remove obstacles to growth, to provide what the kingdom needs to grow? It’s only when Christians are idle that the kingdom shrinks. When we realize that each of us is responsible for spreading Christ’s kingdom in society, we will see these parables come to life before our eyes. We will see the unstoppable growth of the Church.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I’m sorry for not realizing, for sometimes forgetting, that I am here to help you in your mission of bringing all souls to heaven. Please help me to be ready to encourage, to give good example, to teach those you put in my life.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will study something about my faith so that I know it a little bit better, and can be more faithful in the way I live my life and help those who ask me about my faith.
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