Friday, January 31, 2020

Examining the Seeds of Faith

Mark 4:26-34

I recently had the opportunity to sit in on my son Daniel's science class at our home-school co-op.  They had been studying seeds for quite some time and were now going to dissect them.  Having lived on a farm for 14 years, somehow, I never thought to do this.  To say the least, I was blow away.

Image result for dissected seedsAs the 2nd and 3rd graders began to open up bean, corn, and other seeds they, and I, began to see something remarkable.  Within each of those seeds, if you looked carefully, you could see an entire plant but in miniature.  The parts of the plant, root, stem, leaves, etc., were all there in a nearly microscopic form.  We could also see that the vast majority of the seed was food (and shelter) for that living plant to burst forth, live a full life, and leave behind a legacy of more seeds.

In the first part of today's reading Jesus tells us about a man who sows seeds and then goes about his life while the seed grows, becomes fruitful, and is then ready for the harvest.  I find it interesting that Jesus tells us that this all happens and the man "knows not how."  Nor does he seem to care.  Notice that the man in the parable doesn't plant the seed, wait a while, wonder what's going on and dig up the seed to check on it.  In no parable of Jesus does he mention this sort of lack of trust.  The farmer simply trusts that it will happen.  (Lord, help me live like that!!!)

Yet, this isn't an agricultural lesson.  Jesus is revealing a deeper truth about the Kingdom of God.  We don't always know how God works or how or which seeds we plant might grow.  When we think we've figured it out, created a system (RCIA, PSR, CCD, etc.), and are preparing for the great harvest, the crop often fails.  We spend too much time focusing on what we think will work.  We spend too much time focusing on processes, not people.  We aren't trusting God like the man in the parable!  We say through our actions, "We've got it figured out, we'll take it from here God, we can make this more efficient by trusting in our systems rather than trusting in you..."   I believe the first part of today's reading shows us that we need to trust God and that He'll do what needs to be done, we know not how...

Like the seeds that have life within them, each and every person has a little bit of God within them.  No, rather, they have the Kingdom of God, the life of God within them in seed form.  A tiny seed, like the mustard seed, but in the Kingdom of God, that's all it takes!  Our job, then, is not to decide which seeds have the best chance of success or which process works best for sprouting and growing those seeds.  No, we have to remember the parable we heard shortly before this.  Our job is to work the ground, til the heart, remove stone, cut thorns, and chase off birds.  Our job is to allow that seed to grow in our own life so that the world is full of these giant walking mustard plants!!  We must also help others to see that, as Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange put it, "...embryonic form of everlasting life, as the very seed of glory..." within themselves.

What if we all lived as though the very seed of God, grace, was living and growing within us and others!!?  How would we treat others differently?  How would we treat ourselves differently?  Would we cultivate the ground through frequent confession?  Water it with prayer?  Fertilize and feed it with the Eucharist?  The Kingdom of God is within us and those people we meet each day.  Let us therefore plant good seeds, be good seeds, sleep and rise night and day, and trust the Lord will give us a fruitful harvest even if he[we] know not how.

Read More from James M. Hahn - Blog, Books

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