Being God’s Gardener

By this time of year, the crops are in the field and gardens have been planted. Many plants have begun to sprout and some have even blossomed. The seeds that were put in the ground will look nothing like the plants which will grow from them. The next time you eat an apple, take a close look at the seeds which you find in the core. How does an apple tree grow from one of these little seeds? Looking at the seed you would never guess what great potential it truly has!

In just a few weeks, the corn should be knee high (“knee high by the 4th of July!”). The gardener simply planted the seed and with just a little bit of watering and pulling of weeds, there will be a great harvest of fresh corn! It is a wonderful and mysterious process that we are able to gain so much from small seeds. Of course, anyone who has ever had a garden can tell you that there are things in this world that will try to prevent that process from happening. Everything from rabbits to drought can prohibit or even destroy the gardener’s work to bring a plant to fruition.

In Mark’s Gospel this weekend, Jesus compares the mystery of how seeds, in general, grow and in particular the phenomenal growth of the tiny mustard seed to explain God’s Kingdom. We have been taught that the Kingdom of God is present and is yet to be. This too is a wonderful and mysterious process. Hopefully, we have all felt the presence of God at moments in our life. I believe that the times we feel true peace, joy and contentment are the times we experience a hint of God’s Kingdom in this world. These may be small and brief moments in our daily lives, but they are the seeds from which the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom can and will grow. We may not fully understand how this happens, but we believe it to be true.

However, just as the seeds in our gardens can be threatened by multiple things, so too can the growth of God’s Kingdom be threatened by the sin and evil which are realities in us and in our world. Read any newspaper, and we can clearly see both social sin and personal sin at work. The systemic injustice in our world that keeps people in poverty or prevents them from experiencing basic human rights is all too apparent. On any given day, we can read multiple news stories of hatred, violence and greed within our systems and within individuals. There may be days that we are so overwhelmed by the glaring evil in our society and world that we may be tempted to lose hope of God’s Kingdom ever coming to fulfillment But don’t lose that hope! Just as the gardener may have to work harder when drought is threatening his plants, we too just have to work a little harder when it appears God’s Kingdom is being threatened by the lack of love and justice among His people.

Look more closely at the daily news and we will find at least a few articles about someone displaying truly selfless love or mercy to their fellow human beings. Every day we can find individuals and organizations in our local community and in the world that reveal the Gospel teachings of charity and justice. We may not always see it in the newspaper, but there are people that are working towards building the Kingdom of God. Each and every one of us has the potential to be “the seed” of God’s Kingdom to those around us. Some days we are stronger than others and don’t allow outside forces to prohibit our growth or prevent us from bearing the fruit of being a child of God. Other days we give in to temptation and our actions and attitudes can cause us to diminish ourselves, each other and our relationship with God. It is at those times that we need to stop and recognize the sinfulness of our actions. We repent and once again we find that small seed that is within each of us that enables us to be an intimate and essential part of God’s Kingdom. Just as the very tiny mustard seed can grow to be a very large plant, so too can that small seed of faith and love within us grow to be much larger than anything we could have imagined. Our loving actions can have far reaching and positive effects on things of which we will never even become aware.

By remembering that we, as individuals and as a society, embody and carry the small seeds of God’s present and future Kingdom within us, we have the strength and ability to do what God asks of us to aid in the building of His Kingdom. So this summer as we water and nurture our various plants, whether it be a single tomato plant or a five acre garden, let us ask ourselves what we are doing to “water and nurture” the seeds of God’s Kingdom which is within each of us.

May God continue to bless each of us as we enjoy the summer gifts of warm sun, cooling waters and long, light evenings.

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