Today's other readings are Ezekiel 17: 22-24; Psalm 92; 2 Corinthians 5: 6-10
On one pilgrimage to the Holy Land, our group was privileged to visit the Mount of Precipice, which is located at the south end of Nazareth. At the edge of the Precipice is a tiny chapel which commemorates the story of how the people of Nazareth, enraged by Jesus’ claims as to who He was, tried to throw Him off the cliff of the mountain, but thankfully Jesus escaped their clutches.
After we gathered to listen to St. Luke’s account of this story (4:29-30), our guide, Gideon, walked up to me with his hand outstretched. In his palm I could see a very tiny, but very bright yellow speck. He told me it was a mustard seed. Then he led me to a mustard shrub that grew nearby. It had to well over 8 feet tall, with its stem being at least 4 inches in circumference. The difference between its tiny beginning and its final result was startling. When Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like a tiny mustard seed that grows into a mighty shrub, I a visual that I will never forget.
Many of Jesus’ parables often starts them with the phrase, “The Kingdom of God is like …”, and then Jesus uses simple examples from the world of nature or ordinary, everyday events to illustrate it. Today, He uses the image of a farmer sewing, and then that of the mustard seed. Both examples start with something small and simple, but finishes with something that becomes very big.
From these two parables we can deduce that the Kingdom of God is big. Very big. But where is it? Any ideas? Most would immediately say up there, up in heaven. Which is true. Heaven definitely is a big part of the Kingdom of God. There, God truly reigns. But where else? How about here? Here among us, here on earth. Do you ever think that here is also the Kingdom of God? It can be – and it is.
Interestingly, all of Jesus’ parables about the Kingdom of God are not about what it’s like in heaven, but rather what it can be like here on earth. This happens whenever people acknowledge God’s kingship in their lives – and then when they respond to the offer of divine grace and live out their faith in their actions, words and thoughts.
Now the thought of you and me helping make the Kingdom of God on earth a reality should make us pause and think. Me? I can be someone that helps to make the Kingdom of God grow and happen here on earth? That’s right. You can. By living your faith day after day. The little acts of kindness you do, praying, caring, loving, sharing. And you won’t be doing so alone. Others will as well. And all the while the Holy Spirit will be prodding you, nudging you along.
Let me give you an example. Our parish youth ministry and the kids that have been part of it. Many started at Bible camp in their younger years. Then they got involved in our EDGE and Lifeteen programmes, and after that they become faith leaders for kids younger than them. It all started small, the kids for starters, and with the help of people who cared, giving of their time and talents and their faith in our youth ministry. And as the years passed, all the while the Holy Spirit was sprinkling them with some heavenly seasoning that we call grace. 9 years later I look at them and say, “Wow. Look what happened”. A little seed of a child has grown into something beautiful. And the Kingdom of God keeps growing.
Where has the Kingdom of God been unfolding in your life? It’s often easier to notice it in others. But where is the Kingdom of God been growing in you? Are you a better person now than compared to 10 years ago? I hope so. Maybe you haven’t noticed the change, but hopefully others in your life have. With prayers and kind actions of faith, chances are you have grown as a person of God, and so has the Kingdom of God.
Starting small – if the Kingdom of God can start with a mustard seed, or the simple act of a farmer sewing seeds, then the Kingdom of God can certainly grow within you. For you are far greater and far more complex and have far more potential than a mustard seed. So, start, and don’t worry, God will help with the growing.