Gospel Reflection – 11th Sunday



The Power of Little Seeds (Mark 4:26-34)

Jesus began his mission by announcing the kingdom of God. As his career developed it became clear that Project Kingdom would not be simple or instantaneous.   So, he told many parables to explain the gradual growth of the kingdom. We have two of these parables in today’s Mass.

Patient growth

The first parable is about the need for patience when growth is slow.  Patience does not come easily to us today.  Technology has changed our lives in many ways.   We have light, heating and music at the flick of a switch:  instant communication with any part of the world:  a tablet for virtually every pain.  And yet there are times when there is no instant answer.  We need patience.   Jesus looked to the fields around him for a parable on the subject.  Quite a lot happens between planting and harvesting, so the farmer must let nature take its course.   The growth of the kingdom of God goes on through day and night: days when there is great progress and nights when there are periods of spiritual recession.  We are experiencing a spiritual winter in Europe, but there are other regions where religion is flourishing.  Some plants require winter frosts to hasten the decay of compost which enriches the earth.  We must trust in God’s providence that our spiritual winter will bring about a healthier Church.

Tiny Seeds

The second parable about the growth of the kingdom takes the example of the tiny mustard seed which looks like yellow dust.  But unlike dust, it is full of potential for life.  Being so light, it can be wafted a great distance by the wind, so much so that there were areas where it was forbidden to plant the seed lest the mustard bush take over the neighbouring fields.   The application of the parable tells us that while the project of the kingdom is big yet the means to its implementation will involve many small gestures and actions. Think globally but act locally.

Mother Teresa

The life of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a great example.  While there are millions dying from hunger or basic medical care, her mission began when she picked up one dying woman off the street to ensure that she had a dignified death.   Her action inspired others.  Her motto was to do something beautiful for God. Do the little thing with a lot of love.

Some little seeds of goodness have worldwide results, others may have a little result and other charitable actions seem to pass unnoticed.  But God takes note and at the last judgement people will be amazed when they discover that God is rewarding them for a cup of water, a visit to a lonely person, even the smallest act of kindness.

If every Christian concentrated on kindness, helpfulness, forgiveness and any kind of goodness, instead of an exodus from the Church we might see people asking what do you Christians have.   In the early days of the Church, people remarked how these Christians love one another.

What do we Christians have?  I believe that through our baptism we have the seeds of the Resurrection planted in us.  I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit in the Church.  I know that there have been shocking scandals which call out for humble repentance.   There are weeds in the garden but there are far more beautiful flowers.   The vast majority of organizations involved in social work … Vincent de Paul, Simon Community, Focus Ireland, Trócaire, Threshold etc.  have one thing in common.  They were founded by Catholics.

We might never perform a heroic deed or a big project, but we are called to light a little candle of friendliness or attention.  And if every one of us lit a candle of charitable action, the world would be a brighter place.


Where I walk or work, where I play or pray, in the little acre of God that I till, is there anybody less hungry because I am there?

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