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Our Faith Grows as a Mustard Seed

Last week, I focused on “growing and sowing” with the parable of the sower and the seed. This week, our Lord speaks of a seed in another parable: the mustard seed. Once again, each of us can individually reflect on how our journey of faith has grown like a mustard seed. Our faith was so small at our Baptisms; but with the nourishment and watering of God’s grace – especially in the Eucharist – it has grown to be good sized. We can also look back on our parish history to see how it has been like a mustard seed growing over the past 100 years.

But, we can also reflect on our sowing. Our evangelization attempts are like planting mustard seeds around us in our neighborhood and in our families. No matter how small the sowing might seem to us, God can make it grow into something huge! Bishop Robert Barron provides some examples from the history of our Church to show how Christ has grown the mustard seed of faith in spectacular ways in a brief commentary on chicagopriest.com. May this happen in our parish and in our families!

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

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Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, “the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants…so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade” (Matthew 13:31).

The first Christians understood Jesus to be speaking of his Church, the mystical body that began in the smallest way, but has come in time to be home to the nations of the world. The mustard seed of the Church began with a thirty-year-old man, dying on an instrument of torture, his disciples having fled, and his enemies mocking him. But it grew into the Body of Christ composed of billions of people in every country on the planet, and many more in heaven.

Watch this pattern repeated up and down the centuries. Francis of Assisi was something of a drifter, a young man who had repudiated the way of his father and was following the prompting of the Lord. Most people saw him as crazy, dangerous, and deranged. Soon, he attracted followers, and their number grew into the hundreds. The first

Franciscan missionaries were stoned, chased away, or killed. But within a hundred years of Francis’s death, they were a world-wide organization—a mustard seed, indeed.

Mother Teresa left the relative comfort of her convent behind high walls in Calcutta and walked out into the streets of the worst slum in the world. Anyone seeing her with ordinary eyes would have written her off. But soon enough, she attracted followers who established her order in Calcutta, then around India, then in Venezuela, Rome, New

York, London, and around the world. Another mustard seed.

(At this time) what mustard seed can you plant that might grow into a great tree where the birds of the air make their nests?

Our Job is to Get Busy Sowing

In preparing some thoughts on the parable that our Lord uses in today’s Gospel, “the sower and the seed”, I came across a fruitful (pun intended) article from Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio at crossroadsinitiative.com. It’s excellent because of the content, and that it is brand new (dated 7/10/17)! The insights and stats are current which are extremely valuable given that our culture changes so rapidly.

It is my hope that the seed (Word of God) brings much sowing and growing in our lives!

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

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“To respond to this parable adequately, we must view it from two different angles. The first is to look at the story as if we are the seed.

Many who hear the gospel never seem to “get it.” The message is stolen before it ever takes root. Then there are the 50% of Catholic kids who receive the sacraments but disappear somewhere between age 18 and 25. Shallow roots fail to equip them to take the heat of our pagan culture. Then there are the 89% of lifelong, regular churchgoers who, according to George Gallup, have values and lifestyles identical to those of their pagan neighbors. Their faith has been neutralized by bad theology and worldliness. They may look like wheat plants, but their religion is fruitless.

Then there are those who stay out of serious sin, manage to do some good for some people, but all in all produce a mediocre harvest.

Finally come the few who are not satisfied with just getting by. They sink their roots deep into Scripture, Tradition, prayer and the sacraments, and produce a bumper crop. We call these people saints.

Addressing us as seed, Jesus is saying: “be careful. If you don’t make the effort to get thoroughly rooted in your faith, you just might not make it. If you do manage to survive,

you might produce absolutely nothing. But you are called to grow and bear much fruit (John 15), to yield 100 fold, to be a saint, to leave a mark on the lives of many that will last forever. Don’t settle for anything less!”

On the other hand, we can look at the parable as if we were the farmer.

Vatican II and all the Popes since have stated unequivocally that each of us is called to be an evangelizer, to tell others that Jesus Christ changes lives eternally and that the place to encounter him most fully and grow most rapidly is within the Catholic Church.

“But,” you may protest, “I tried it a few times and got nowhere. I just don’t have the personality, don’t have the gift”

Jesus, the Son of God, indisputably had both the personality and the gift. Yet when he sowed seed, much of it still ended up as bird food. Consider the thousands he fed with loaves and fishes, the multitude that heard his sermon on the mount, the throngs that welcomed him on Palm Sunday. Yet on the day of Pentecost, there were only 120 left in the Upper Room, awaiting the Holy Spirit.

Notice, though, that the fruit borne by these 120 plants eventually filled the whole world!

To get the few that bear fruit, lots of seed must be sown by lots of people. So regardless of whether or not we think we have green thumbs, we farmers are being commanded through this parable to get the seed out there, sowing it everywhere we go, undeterred by the birds, the weeds, and the scorching sun.

So the parable of the sower has a twofold message: as seed, our job is to get busy growing. As farmers, our job is to get busy sowing.”