“Once [a mustard seed] 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.”

Today’s gospel passage (Mk 4:26-34) has Jesus speaking of the kingdom of God.  He uses parables to give His hearers a sense of this kingdom.  First, He compares it to a farmer scattering seed, watching the crops grow, and then gathering this harvest.  Second, He likens it to the tiny mustard seed which when planted eventually does what is mentioned in the headline.  The reading closes by saying that Jesus spoke to the crowds only using parables but always explained these sayings privately to His disciples.  Many of us can relate to the mustard seed.  It seems that we are very small and can do very little in the grand scheme of things, especially as it relates to advancing the kingdom of God.  While it is true that we can do nothing on our own, we are heartened to know that “for God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26).  Through prayer, fasting, study, resisting temptation, and renouncing sin, we prepare ourselves to be the “good soil” (Mark 4:8) upon which the Holy Spirit can productively water graces.  This process of reforming our lives, often slow and painful, gradually allows the light of Christ to shine forth from us (Mt 5:16) and makes us effective instruments to bring others into the kingdom.

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