THE SMALLEST OF ALL SEEDS
God’s love made his people as close to God as a loincloth is close to the human body. Jeremiah’s symbolic action tells the people that by embracing the idolatry of Babylonia, they have given up God’s tenderness and become like rotten loincloth.
A tiny seed becomes a tree. At the beginning when one hears it and accepts it, the word of God is only a tiny seed, and when it is contested and contradicted, as it was in the early Church and is often again today, it looks insignificant, negligible. What is it, in comparison with the powerful media? But it is meant to grow and to become little by little a kingdom of love and justice that overcomes all contradiction and hatred.
Curb our impatience, Lord,
when we try to impose
your truth and justice and peace
on a Church and a world
not yet disposed to welcome them.
In our powerlessness and discouragement
may we learn to accept
that all true growth comes from you.
We can only plant the tiny seed
and it is you who make it bloom into a mighty tree
that can give shelter to all who accept your word.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
1 Reading: Jeremiah 13:1-11
The LORD said to me: Go buy yourself a linen loincloth; wear it on your loins, but do not put it in water. I bought the loincloth, as the LORD commanded, and put it on. A second time the word of the LORD came to me thus: Take the loincloth which you bought and are wearing, and go now to the Parath; there hide it in a cleft of the rock. Obedient to the LORD’s command, I went to the Parath and buried the loincloth. After a long interval, the LORD said to me: Go now to the Parath and fetch the loincloth which I told you to hide there. Again I went to the Parath, sought out and took the loincloth from the place where I had hid it. But it was rotted, good for nothing! Then the message came to me from the LORD: Thus says the LORD: So also I will allow the pride of Judah to rot, the great pride of Jerusalem. This wicked people who refuse to obey my words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts, and follow strange gods to serve and adore them, shall be like this loincloth which is good for nothing. For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man’s loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the LORD; to be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty. But they did not listen.
Responsorial Psalm DT 32:18-19, 20, 21
R. (cf. 18a) You have forgotten God who gave you birth.
You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you,
You forgot the God who gave you birth.
When the LORD saw this, he was filled with loathing
and anger toward his sons and daughters. R.
“I will hide my face from them,” he said,
“and see what will then become of them.
What a fickle race they are,
sons with no loyalty in them!” R.
“Since they have provoked me with their ‘no-god’
and angered me with their vain idols,
I will provoke them with a ‘no-people’;
with a foolish nation I will anger them.” R.
Alleluia JAS 1:18
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Matthew 13:31-35
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'” He spoke to them another parable. “The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.
Remarkable unseen growth is one of the points of today’s liturgy. Paul and Apollos were fellow evangelizers and at one point Paul comments on their accomplishments: “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Cor 3:6). All of us like to see the fruit of our labour and are not averse to taking a certain credit. In the realm of the Spirit, human effort is present but it is God who produces the end result.
Today’s parables point in the same direction. The very small and insignificant mustard seed shows an outstanding growth. Likewise it takes a small amount of yeast to leaven a large batch of dough. And none of this is due to human industry. So too in the realm of faith, there is often a very high level of acceptance. But just as the crops grow while the farmer sleeps, so too in the real of the Spirit.
Naturally we are happy when an important project comes to fruition. But the kingdom is the work of Christ, and we are pleased to be his collaborators. Of his first followers Francis of Assisi never said that he gathered them. His only comment was, “God gave me brothers.”
– That the tiny seed still alive in the hearts of many who abandon the Church may not be extinguished but grow again into a bright light to guide them to God and people, we pray:
– That missionaries may keep sowing the seed of the Lord’s joyful good news in our often indifferent and hostile world, we pray:
– That the seed of sharing and unity may keep growing in our Christian communities, until they become one heart and one mind in the Lord who gathers them at his table, let us pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Almighty and patient Father,
we bring before you the fruits
grown from tiny seeds of wheat
and the small shoots of the vine.
By the power of your Spirit
they will become Jesus, your Son among us.
Let the seed of his life and message
bear fruit among us, your people
and make us the body of Christ to the world.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Prayer after Communion
God, our Father,
with a generous hand you have sown among us
the seed of all that is good and true,
your Son Jesus Christ.
However insignificant and disappointing
our faith and love may seem now,
give us the hope and the courage
that he can unite us in a community
where justice, truth and freedom will prevail
until the crop is ripe for reaping.
Grant us this through Christ our Lord.
All growth is slow, so slow that it is almost invisible. All that grows needs time. That is the way the word of God in which we believe has to grow among us and to become a kingdom where people respond to God’s fidelity and work out God’s plans. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!