The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4: 26 – 34)
Today’s Gospel is the story of the Mustard Seed. Jesus did most of His teaching by using parables. In this version we can see He has used two parables and two stories.
The Sower is Jesus Himself, though the story could well be set in the time of our global pandemic and its aftermath. The size of the mustard seed is very small and it corresponds to the size of the group of followers whom Jesus formed as the People of God – or as the Church. According to Mark, it would appear that He formed them almost carelessly: “A man throws seed on the land…During the day and throughout the night the seed sprouts forth and grows.” But He knows not how. And when the crop is ready, He wastes no time but gathers in the harvest.
Secondly, in Mark’s account, Jesus describes this mustard seed as the “smallest of all the seeds on earth.” This seed, however, develops and grows into the biggest shrub – it grows not only high but wide – all encompassing, all inclusive, even providing space and shelter for the birds of the air.
On reflection, this parable has much to teach: great and mighty things grow from the smallest beginnings. Each of us, though we may often feel inadequate, have something within us which by care and nourishing can grow beyond belief. Inclusivity helps us all grow in and beyond ourselves, as members this Church, this People of God, servants of God’s Kingdom where all are welcome. Potentiality must never be underestimated.
Let us return to the subject of the pandemic. We recall the feeling of abandonment because it seemed Jesus, like the man in the Gospel parable, was sleeping. But the seed was growing, was growing in and through all the suffering, anxiety and fear. All thoughts of annihilation eventually faded. We began to trust God again. We began to notice how people were looking after each other, how thingsbecame less valuable, and people became more precious.
God grant that we may continue to appreciate life in all its fullness and never forget that whether awake or asleep God has us in His care.
Sr Patricia O’Reilly OP