Jesus taught them, saying: “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it 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.”  (Mark 4 passage)

Have you ever seen a mustard seed? It was common in Jesus’ time in Israel, but maybe not so today—but it is quite the example of something very tiny. If you had a mustard seed in your hand but dropped it on the ground, then you likely will not be able to find it. Yet, even though the mustard seed is one of the smallest of all seeds, if and when it is planted in the ground, it grows into a plant so large that birds can perch on its branches and can even build their nests in it. So pointed out our Lord Jesus. I have read that these tiny seeds can produce a plant that grows ten feet high or more!  That is a lot from a little.  That is the emphasis of the parable: God has designed things, as well as us, to bring a lot out of a little.

I once was a little baby in the dad’s palm, three scores and seven years ago. There’s been a bit of growth since! Also back in 1957, there was no parish here, nor over at St. John the Baptist—just mostly woods and this Old Columbia Pike. Two parishes sprung up here since then of about 2000 households now. From a small start to this today.  God loves good growth. He is the God of Life.

In contrast, something that is small than gladly doesn’t grow big are those reddish clover mites. They are crawling dots. Two crawled onto me while in the Friday outdoor confessional house. I used a pencil eraser to squish them, but out came a bright red pigment splash over my skin. Yuk! But I was glad that these arachnids don’t grow much than their tiny size. If they did, then my squishing them would likely bring a softball size red stain. That would be bad, but no worry!

The contrast back to the tiny seed –they grow into mustard tree/plant-bushes that can get to eight to ten feet, with branches able to hold birds—all from its small beginnings to that.

How is that a picture of the kingdom of God? Well, when Jesus first began his earthly ministry, he had no followers. The Bible tells us that Jesus was walking along the shore of the sea of Galilee when he saw two fishermen, Peter and his brother Andrew, casting their nets. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said to them. They immediately followed Jesus. As they continued on their way, they saw two other brothers, James and John, mending their nets. Jesus called them and they immediately left their nets and followed him. One by one, Jesus called his disciples until there were twelve of them. That is still a pretty small beginning, isn’t it? Jesus sent out the twelve and they brought others to Jesus and the kingdom of God grew. From a very small beginning, the kingdom of God has grown and grown until it has spread over the entire earth. Now we have our ministry here, a parish, a hospital, a large retirement village outreach—seven Sunday masses and a daily one with dozens at it every day. You are here, and God has plans for you to keep growing His kingdom and for His kingdom come to develop in you to a sizable influence and outward witness of love.

Let’s hope that a short homily today, too, can work its wonder. Small is beautiful.

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