June 10, 2021
I remember being in grade school (a former millennia) and we were asked to bring in a jar and paper towels for we were going to plant peas. Put the paper towel in the jar and carefully place the peas in between the towels and the jar so you can see them. Then add water and wait and wait and wait. It seemed like an eternity, especially as a child. I would go to the jar several times a day to see if anything was happening. Then came the weekend. On Monday when I went to school voila, the seeds began to sprout.
Our Scripture readings today use agricultural images and speak to us about growth. The Gospel, Mark 4:26-34, has Jesus telling us two parables. The first: he said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.” Growth takes time. Growth takes nurturing. Growth takes patience. No matter where we are on the spiritual journey we are all called to grow. None of us are called to simply plateau and to remain as we are. Each of us is called to grow even though we may not even recognize the growth or know exactly how it is that we are growing.
Jesus concludes this parable by saying: “The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” So here he is telling us that the purpose of that growth is to bear fruit. Not simply fruit for ourselves but fruit for others. We are called to bear fruit for the good of others and to help them on their spiritual journey.
The second parable is probably well known to us it is the parable of the Mustard Seed. Jesus said: “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” Here we can sometimes think that we are just a small mustard seed and what can we really do or accomplish or offer to others. However, no matter how small we are when we offer ourselves to the Master Gardener, he will help us to grow and we will be able to do amazing things. Things that we could never imagine that we would be able to do.
Ezekiel 17:22-24 speaks to us about God taking a sprig from a cedar and planting it on a high and lofty mountain. There it will produce boughs and bear fruit and become a noble cedar. Every kind of bird will live and nest in it. Here we do not see a distant and remote God but one who is intimately involved in our lives. God is planting, tending and nurturing our growth. Wow, that is awesome! The call is to surrender ourselves to the Master Gardener and to allow him to do only that which he can do.
Our Ezekiel passage concludes with these words: “All the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord. I bring low the high tree, I make high the low tree; I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken; I will accomplish it.” We may think that the possibility for our growth is low and we may think that we will not bear fruit of any consequence. However, we are told that nothing is impossible for God! As many of us turn our thoughts to gardening let us not forget to stay connected to the Master Gardener who has amazing plans for us: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11