Readings: Ezekiel 17:22-24; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mk 4:26-34
The readings this Sunday proclaim the mystery of the kingdom of God. The first reading uses the metaphor of a “tender shoot” to prophecy that God will take the exiled people in Babylon and bring them back to Israel. The passage foretells a reversal of fortunes by God who will restore an exiled people into a nation. God chooses the weak and the lowly to make them strong. That prophecy is fulfilled in Christ. I am reminded of the amazing story of St. John Vianney’s path to the priesthood which had been marked by many uncertainties, failures and tears. Virtually failing his studies, his ordination had only come about because his close friend was able to pull some strings in the Diocese of Lyons. And even when ordained, few held any hopes for this illiterate, simple peasant. For a man to be sent to Ars was held by his brother priests as a disgrace. As pastor of Ars, he became known for his priestly radical spiritual transformation of the community and its surroundings through the Sacrament of Confession. I tell this story because this Sunday Jesus in the Gospel uses two short parables to show how the kingdom of God unfolds mysteriously like in the case of John Vianney.
In the second parable, Jesus compares the growth of the kingdom to a mustard seed that a farmer plants and then retires from the scene going about other duties. The growth of the seed does not depend on him for it has its own potential growth. The point of the parable is that the kingdom of God starts small, in each of us, but when we allow ourselves to grow in God’s life, we become powerful instruments of growing the kingdom. God has incredible possibilities for each of us to be transformed into something beautiful for God and for the growth of the Church. “Transforming people one at a time is at the heart of God’s plan for the world.” The growth of the seed which is God’s plan happens in the most unexpected ways, times and places. Even the people who come our way in moments we never planned is part of that growth. The kingdom of God grows in the most unlikely places: in the poor, in the midst of persecution, in our sickness or that of our relatives, in our family trial moments; in times of personal struggle. What seems humanly insignificant, failure or impossible is transformed by God’s power and grace into success, and a wonderful experience of God’s salvation. The message we take home may be summed up in three points. 1) The readings proclaim the mystery of the kingdom of God that grows unnoticed in each of us. 2) The readings challenge us to be open to God’s planting of the seed of his word in our hearts. 3) As stewards, we must never be discouraged by what seems to be insignificant or failure in our lives, for God thrives in failure and powerlessness.
©2015 John S. Mbinda