Mustard Seeds

Today I said to God in exasperation, “Life is so complicated! So many virtues to gain, so many vices to avoid!”

It does seem that way sometimes, but then during my prayer time this afternoon, I reread today’s gospel.

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”

Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”

Mustard seeds? Yeast granules? Pretty small stuff. Not very complicated. But their effects are large bushes and whole batches of dough!

This got me thinking about an experience I had with my friend this weekend. We were at a baptism, and as we were getting ready to leave the reception, he said he was going to go say good-bye to everyone. By “everyone” he meant everyone with whom he had had a meaningful conversation.

Wow! This was such a small gesture, yet the effect was quite large! Another opportunity for “nice meeting you”, “thank you”, “good luck”, and “God bless”. Another opportunity for a hug, a handshake, and a kiss on the cheek.

I was so impressed by this practice that I tried it out last night at a reception at my parish. As I was leaving, I went back to a older gentleman who was sitting at my table and asked his name again, shook his hand, and said goodbye so that if I see him around the parish I’ll be able to say “Hello Mario!”

What if building Christian community were that easy? What if we all planted little mustard seeds like this each chance we got?

6 Replies to “Mustard Seeds”

  1. I have a son who is now a young adult. When we were both younger, religion wasn’t a very important part of my life, and so, I didn’t pass on the things I am now passing on to my now young children. I feel like I’ve left him a little behind. He’s a great person- solid and good, but he doesn’t have a life that is grounded in any particular faith. I’m not sure what I can do now to rectify this. The absence of faith in his life is definately due to my failings and I’m unsure as to how to change anything. Any suggestions?

    1. Dear Anon – I am speaking from the opposite perspective, having come to faith very young in my still young life, and hoping for a spiritual reawakening in my parents. The biggest advice I can give you is one that takes a long time to carry out and may not show noticeable results, but it is what I have found the best. Simply be the best, and most joyful person of faith you can be, and be proactive about displaying your joy. Not the reasons why your son should join you (although there is a time and place for that too), but simply your own reasons for why it is so important to you and vital to your happiness. For instance, simply in describing how your day was, make it a point to mention how your faith got you through the ups and downs you faced, and end on an upbeat note. It’s such a small thing, but it makes a huge difference. What you choose to reveal to your son of your interior life should invite him into closeness with you and closeness to the source of your joy. Do you lead a life, and possess a disposition that would make someone close to you think, “I wonder what he/she has… I want that!”? That is the key. There is so much more I want to say than can be expressed in a comment box, so I shall limit it to that central point that may be obvious but can never be repeated enough. I shall pray for you and all parents with this desire – please pray for all sons and daughters who want the same for their parents.

    2. Dear anon, the best thing you can do is beseech the living God in prayer for the well-being and salvation of your son, the rest is up to God. When you really love God you will affect those around you beyond your wildest hopes. I will pray for you and him, too.

  2. I think I might know this friend that you are referring to–hmmmm, I wonder who it might be…

    I like this too. I also like the way you think and write.
    Laura, it was a pleasure to meet you this weekend. Please keep my family and me in your prayers, as I will keep “your friend” and you in mine.

  3. Laura, a little off the topic of your blog, something struck me about what you said “so many virtues to gain” Thinking about the mustard seed growing to become a large bush so that the birds of the sky will dwell in its branches. It struck me that those free-flying birds are those so seemingly elusive virutes you speak about. Thanks for that.


  4. At the Lutheran church in which I grew up, parishioners would hang out around the coffeepot between services or catch up with each other in the coat room. Our pastor on occasion would remind us that we each have a responsibility to make people feel welcome. We were asked to introduce ourselves when we see someone unfamiliar, to provide assistance if someone seems to have trouble following the service, and to help visitors find their way through the building.

    At the Catholic church my family attends now, there is no coffeepot, and no coat room. Ten minutes after Mass is over the parking lot is nearly empty. I don’t know how people get to know each other. I can put names to only a handful of faces, and those only because I introduced myself to them, or because I know them from outside church. In the eight years my family has been registered in the parish, not one parishioner has initiated introductions. I’ve felt fairly invisible at the family events to which I’ve taken my daughter.

    It would be nice to be greeted by name when I go to Mass.

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