Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sister Marie Prefontaine, SNDdeN

Jun 12, 2024 | Gospel Reflections

June 16, 2024

Mark 4: 26-34

When you look at your life today, what is different compared to your life a year ago, three, five, twenty years ago? And how did any of that happen? But the reality, as Jesus describes it in the two parables of today’s Gospel reading is that there is a dynamism about our lives, a spirit moving within us. Every one of us has been seeded and something is growing within us. Sometimes we do not see it, believe it, or trust it. But it is there. Sometimes we wait years hoping, looking, yet we, like the reign of God, are always in process, living into our completion.

I wonder, who are those someone’s in your life who have scattered seeds on the ground of your life? And what are those seeds? Who are the people that have loved and encouraged you, offered wisdom and guidance for your life, spoke difficult truths that changed your life? These are seeds scattered in your life by someone. Who is doing that for you today? How are you a “seed scatterer” in the lives of others, for the life of the world? What barren ground is waiting to be seeded and planted with your life, gifts, passions, presence, and concerns? There is much barren ground to be seeded – the barren ground of racism, violence, poverty, climate change – and thousands of others like them. The seeds of the Kindom have been planted in us, buried where we cannot see them grow or develop, but we know life is happening, that good fruit will grow.

This thought leads to the second parable in our Gospel passage that of the tiny mustard seed. In Jesus’ earlier parable of the Sower and the Seed, we find Mark’s favorite word “immediately” as he describes the urgency required to harvest the grain. Jesus’ choice of the mustard seed is quite intriguing considering this immediacy.

If you google mustard in the Middle East, you find it is a weed growing on the hillside, filling in the untamed and undesirable spots for farming. When Jesus says the Kindom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, it is a warning.  As John Dominic Crossan puts it:

The point, in other words, is not just that the mustard plant starts as a proverbially small seed and grows into a shrub of three or four feet, or even higher, it is that it tends to take over where it is not wanted, that it tends to get out of control, and that it tends to attract birds within cultivated areas where they are not particularly desired. And that, said Jesus, was what the Kingdom was like: not like the mighty cedar of Lebanon and not quite like a common weed, [more] like a pungent shrub with dangerous takeover properties. Something you would want in only small and carefully controlled doses – if you could control it. (The Historical Jesus, pp 278-279)

God often chooses the unexpected, the unimpressive, even the nuisance of a weed, and while no one is looking, it grows with a mighty power and takes over the land.  Sometimes our life, our desired actions seem small and insignificant in the face of the great world crises – yet remember that small mustard seed.  It may be imperceptible at first, yet it can grow wildly, immediately.  Every time you choose love instead of anger, every time you choose generosity instead of greed, every time you work for another’s good instead of your own, you are participating in the Kindom of God.  The first verse of today’s Gospel says that we play the role of a farmer scattering seeds on the ground.  After that, the seed and soil take over and we have little to do but be patient and wait for the harvest. We plant, we take an action, then so much of the result is out of our hands.  “…We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs” (Romero prayer).

Today be mindful of the ways you are a seed scatterer sharing life with the people you encounter throughout your day. Who knows? One of these encounters might be a “mustard seed” that produces more than we could ever imagine.  May we look for the “fruit” of other’s mustard seeds planted in us – a seed that becomes our abundant joy to celebrate God’s goodness!

 

 

Mark 4: 26-34

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

He said, “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.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

 

 

Meet Sister Marie Prefontaine, SNDdeN

Sr. Marie Prefontaine serves part-time as the Executive Assistant to U.S. SNDdeN Leadership and part-time as Coordinator of Irish Apostolate USA providing pastoral support to Irish Center chaplains and serving incarcerated Irish citizens in the U.S. Previously, she ministered in the Archdiocese of Boston, MA, the Diocese of Worcester, MA and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the Office for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees in Washington, DC to provide coordination for pastoral, educational and legal outreach among immigrants, refugees and migratory populations served through parishes and other Catholic institutions. She continues to assist the Congregation with immigration petitions for SNDdeNs working in the United States and serves on the Notre Dame Mission Volunteer Board of Directors. She has a passion for interculturality experienced among migrant communities both in the U.S. and world-wide.