Gospel Reading: Sunday 9 June 2024

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Mark 4:26-34 26Jesus said to the crowds: ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like; it is as if a man were to…

WelCom June/July 2024

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Mark 4:26-34

26Jesus said to the crowds: ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land. 

27Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; he does not know how.

28 Of its own accord the land produces fruit, first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.

29And when the crop is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.’

30 He also said, ‘What shall we compare the kingdom of God to, or what parable can we use for it?

31It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.

32 But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts out big branches, so that the birds of the sky can shelter in its shade.’

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were capable of understanding it.

34 He would not speak to them except in parables, but to his own disciples he explained everything when they were by themselves.


Dr Elizabeth Julian rsm

Lately I’ve been scattering seeds in a very small garden area, not mustards seeds but seeds of spent flowers – cosmos, giant marigolds and zinnia. I know it’s the wrong time of the year but I’m an optimist and they are germinating. After an unseen overnight transformation, the little plants give me such hope in the morning, smiling from among the spring bulbs. Our Creator God is always at work!

I think Jesus was trying to provide hope for his disciples in today’s parables about the seed that grows by itself and the mustard seed.

Apparently, the mustard seed is not really the smallest of seeds (an orchid seed is). It is botanically impossible for it to grow into the largest plant no matter how fertile the soil. In Palestine it grew to a height of two to three metres. Able to spread rapidly it could take over vegetable gardens. Biblical scholar Barbara Reid suggests that Jesus’ use of the image was intended to provide a bit of humour. The reign of God was not going to be an overpowering empire but more like an invasive weed impossible to eradicate. 

If Jesus’ disciples were in need of encouragement, then Jesus’ reminder that extraordinary things could come from tiny beginnings may have been just what they needed to hear. Every little effort they made to help realise God’s reign mattered. 

Thus, the parable offers hope to us today. Discouraged that our efforts to bring about change, to transform systems of injustice, to live more simply, to engage in the works of mercy, to eradicate racism, to look after the planet, seem to be ineffective. 

We can take heart from the phenomenal growth of the mustard seed after its small beginnings. Perhaps next time you’re trying to get rid of a particularly invasive weed – which you didn’t plant– see it as an image of God’s reign, popping up everywhere and here to stay in spite of your best efforts to control it! 

Meanwhile I’ll continue to scatter seeds, my seeds of hope as reminders of the wonders of creation. I think I can hear white kākābeak calling me.