Today Catholic Christians celebrate the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.
On this day, we hear Jesus explaining what the “kingdom of God” is like by giving them two parables. In the first parable, Jesus talks about a farmer scattering seed on the ground. In time, on its own accord, the seed grows into grain that can be harvested for food.
The second parable, the one we focus on in this homily, is that of the mustard seed. We read,
“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” (Mark 4: 30-32).
Before looking at what we can glean from these two seed-related parables, let’s look at the story of a young man who had his own adventure with a seed, an adventure that would lead to amazing things in his life.
There was once a young Christian man named Jim who worked for a thriving business. Jim took his roles as husband, father, and worker very seriously.
One day, when Jim went to work, the owner of the company told the workers that he was going to retire, and that he needed to choose a successor. The owner said that instead of passing leadership of the company to one of his children, he would pass it to one of the men who worked for him.
The owner then told the young executives that he was going to give each of them a seed, a very special seed. He told the men that he wanted them to plant their seed, water it, and come back one year from that day to see how their seed had grown. Then, he would decide which man did the best job with the seed.
So, when Jim got home, he told his wife the exciting news. It was possible that one day he would become the chief executive officer of the company! Jim’s wife immediately got him a pot, soil, and compost, and Jim then planted the seed.
Every day, Jim gave the pot a little water and watched eagerly for the little seed to sprout and grow. But to his dismay, absolutely nothing came out of the soil.
After three weeks, some of the other men in the company began to talk about their seeds and how beautifully they were growing. This made Jim feel even worse.
Soon, the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and before he knew it, a whole year had gone by.
On the day that all the young executives had to bring their pots to the office to show the company’s owner, Jim decided not to go into the office, for he was so ashamed that his seed did not grow. He knew he had killed the seed somehow, and he didn’t want to face the company’s owner and his colleagues.
Jim’s wife, however, encouraged him to take in his pot to the office anyway, just to show that he was honest.
So, Jim brought in his pot that contained only soil, but he stayed in the back of the room, hiding behind the other men. All of the other men had beautiful plants; some of their plants were even as tall as little trees. Needless to say, the other men were very proud of what they had accomplished, and they felt very badly for poor Jim who had nothing but a pot of soil to show.
Soon, the business owner came in and greeted the young executives, and, as he looked at all the plants the men had brought, he commented on how beautiful were all the plants, trees, and flowers the men had gown.
Then the owner saw Jim standing behind the other men and said, “Jim, where is your plant? Come on up and show me.”
Filled with dread and shame, Jim brought up his pot of soil. The owner asked Jim what had happened to his seed. Jim told the owner that he had planted seed, watered it, and fertilized it, but the seed never sprouted.
Suddenly, to the amazement of all, the business owner smiled and said, “Gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that Jim will be the new chief executive officer of this company.” The owner then went on to explain, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed and told you to plant the seed and water it and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow.
“All of you, except Jim, brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that your seed could not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he will be the new leader of the company.”
From Jesus’ parables and Jim’s story, we learn that the kingdom is all about change and growth, but it is also about virtue.
If you had been given a seed that did not flourish, what would you have done?
And that is the good news I have for you on this Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018.
Story source: Anonymous. “The Seed.” SkyWriting.net, no date.