Jesus, the master teacher, often used parables as He shared the divine Word of His Heavenly Father with His disciples and the crowds that followed Him. “With many… parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when He was alone with His own disciples, He explained everything.” (Mark 4: 33-34)
A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. This weekend’s gospel reading contains two such parables – both teaching about the kingdom of God. In the first, the Parable of the Growing Seed, Jesus tells about a farmer who lavishly, generously sows his seed. “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4: 27-29)
As we “unpack” this parable, we see that Jesus is the sower and the seed He sows is the incomprehensible, irresistible Word of His (and our) Heavenly Father. The soil of our hearts receives the precious and powerful Word of God, which by His grace, creates faith. And faith, as it continues to grow, brings about the harvest of eternal life!
While we are the soil in whom the seed grows and brings about salvation, we also become the sower of the seed. In other words, the faith which is planted in us grows, matures and is ready to be “replanted” in the hearts and lives of others as we generously and lavishly share the love of God in Christ with everyone we know!
While the seed does its wonderful work, the most important point of the parable which Jesus tells is all about the harvest – the harvest of souls and the expansion of His Kingdom. This, Jesus wants us to know, is what the kingdom of God is like. (Mark 4: 26)
The second parable, the Parable of the Mustard Seed, is also about the kingdom of God. “Again [Jesus] said, ‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.’” (Mark 4: 30-32)
In this second parable, Jesus tells us that the incomprehensible, irresistible Word of God, though seemingly small, inconsequential and insignificant (as small as a mustard seed) works to do God’s perfect will and brings about the growth of the Kingdom of God. The “birds of the air” are all those receive His forgiveness and who come to believe that Jesus Christ is their only Savior from sin, death and the devil through His suffering, death and resurrection. We are among the birds who benefit from its comfort and “shade.”
The kingdom of God – Jesus’ Kingdom and that of His Heavenly Father – exists wherever He lives and rules by faith. Through the Incomprehensible and Irresistible Seed of Faith, His kingdom exists in our hearts and the hearts of all believers; in His Holy Church on Earth; and, ultimately, in Heaven.
May God bless us as the seed of faith continues to multiply within us and overflows to the planting of the same seed in the hearts and lives of those around us, so that there is an even more bountiful harvest of souls. This is what the kingdom of God is like!
See you in church THIS weekend!
Blessings in Christ,