Today’s Gospel reading (Mark 4: 26-34) provides a two part lesson for all of us. First, the progression of sowing, growing and harvesting of a seed and then the well-known parable of the mustard seed, sown and growing to a large bush big enough that “birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” We are the seeds sown that spend our lives growing, and ideally producing a bountiful harvest. The mustard seed or in other words, the Kingdom of God, is a spiritual reality dwelling in our hearts. It starts small and unassuming but grows to be a refuge for all, the poor and wealthy alike.
When I was a child one of my favorite things to do was help my dad plant our family garden. My father loved to work outside and always had a huge vegetable garden with a variety of plants: potatoes, corn, zucchini, red beets, peas, beans, and of course, all of his varieties of lettuce. Some of the seeds we planted together were huge, like corn, and others looked like dust in my hands as he would pour them into my palm before planting. As the summer wore on my dad could be found outside tending his vegetables and listening to Pirates baseball…his two great loves…besides my mother. The long warm days working with my dad were perfect for growing plants and growing the spiritual life of a child. During that time, I would often talk to God and imagine Him talking back while the ball game played in the background. It was always a bittersweet time to see the harvest coming. The fruit of our work, while delicious on the dinner table, also meant the time of being with God in the summer vegetable garden was coming to a close and school would soon start.
We are the seeds the Father plants in the garden of life and HE tends to us, nurtures us, and is with us always, as we grow. Sometimes we are close to Him and other times we step away but HE is always there quietly tending our souls. The virtues grow within us as we spend more and more time with God the Father, the Master Gardener. All work and patience comes together to provide much good fruit if we allow Him to tend the soil of our hearts, prune our branches, and harvest when it is time. Just like the man in the Gospel, a good father will rise day and night, not knowing how the faith of his child will grow, all while the baseball game plays in the background.