11th Sunday in Ordinary Time B21
I don’t want to argue with Jesus’ saying the mustard seed is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth, but I have to wonder if he knew about portulaca seeds. Being a gardener with the soul of a farmer, I have planted a garden or two in every parish to which I have been assigned. When I was at St. Ann in Avon I was planting portulaca seeds as a border to my vegetable garden. I had prepared the soil, opened the package of seeds and poured them into my hand when suddenly a gust of wind blew and scattered the seeds on the ground where they, being so tiny, blended with the soil so much I couldn’t tell seed from soil. But, lo and behold, the seeds sprouted on their own while I slept and rose night and day and yielded colorful flowers. That was my first-hand experience of this parable.
Now, there is an interesting statement about parables in Mark’s gospel: “With many such parables he [Jesus] spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. … but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.” Why? Were they slower to understand than the crowds? Or was Jesus teaching them that there is more than the surface meaning in understanding a parable? Or was Mark saying to those who would later read his Gospel that if we contemplate any parable, we, under the guidance of Jesus’ Spirit, will find meanings for ourselves to apply in our day? And so:
What does any seed need to grow?
- sun or warmth;
- soil to provide nourishment;
- and, water.
Now suppose the seed is a germ of faith planted in our soul.
Faith will grow only with the warmth of love from God and from caring people, and in a hothouse of a community of faith which provides protection, an invitation to break out of our shell and a challenge that calls forth growth. Faith will grow only by the nourishment of prayer and reflection. Faith will grow only with the flowing waters of grace.
Faith will grow only with the Trinity of the Father’s creative love, the Son’s nourishment in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit, the wellspring of grace, gifts and virtue.
Welcome to Ordinary Time in which extraordinary things are possible!
 Cf. Mark 4:31.
 Mark 4:33-34.