Gospel Reflections

11th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mark 4:26-34

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Agnes Nelson

Published: June 17, 2018

In today’s short reading from the Gospel of Mark Jesus invites us to enter more deeply into the mystery of the “kingdom of God.” That this is important for us is emphasised by the fact that Jesus speaks of the “kingdom” in sixty one separate incidents in the synoptic gospels and twice in John, but nowhere does He give us a precise definition. Jesus prefers to describe this vision in terms of images and parables as in today’s Gospel extract.

The kingdom of God is like a seed planted in the ground. It grows. The farmer does not know how but, of its own accord the seed produces first a green stem of grass, then a bud then a ripened grain. Eventually the harvest is ready for reaping. Joyce Rupp poetically describes seeds as holding life. “Within you,” she says, “are whiskered roots, thick green stems and dancing leaves.” The potential within only needs the right environment. Jesus seems to be telling us that one of the characteristics of the “kingdom” is fruitfulness or growth.

The word “growth” made me think about the little faith community to which I belong. There are six people with developmental disabilities and eight trained catechists. We meet regularly throughout the year and often find ourselves talking about the growth we observe. We notice a softening in people’s eyes, a gentleness in their bodies, a kindness in speech, a desire to return again and again.  Sometimes those who refuse to talk begin to speak; sometimes those who seem angry begin to relax. A group of individuals faithfully gathering, gradually “evolve” into a community. How, we do not know!

Today, take time to identify signs of growth in your own community be it family, parish, religious or work.

In the second parable Jesus compares the “kingdom” to a mustard seed that has grown into a very large shrub so that the birds of air can shelter in its shade. How can something so small become so fruitful? The “kingdom” is God’s, not ours. Littleness seems to have a magnetic attraction for God. Unremarkable beginnings can make for mighty achievements. Littleness is no index to importance.

It is interesting to notice that the phrase “birds of the air” was a traditional Jewish expression for the Gentiles. Jesus therefore seems to be saying that the “kingdom” is open to all people. It is totally inclusive.

Today, in our prayer, let us welcome into our hearts all our sisters and brothers of other faiths and none. We all share the same “little” beginnings.

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