A reading from the gospel according to Mark 4:26-34:
26 Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
27 and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.
28 Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
29 And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”
30 He said, “To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it?
31 It 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 forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
34 Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
Reflection: The Growth Process
Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a seed – small, simple, and obscure but once it is planted on the ground, it will germinate, grow and become huge. We may not know how but for sure, it will happen. More than two thousand years ago, Jesus started a small community of believers in an obscure place somewhere in Israel. When He was arrested, crucified and died, His disciples were scattered and confused. However, as soon as He rose again on the third day and appeared before them, they regrouped. On Pentecost Day, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. From then on, that tiny community became a force that is present in all countries today.
Likewise, our spiritual growth as individuals mirrors that of the growth of community of believers. Once the seed of the teachings of Jesus is planted in our heart, the growth process is initiated and transformation starts. It happens little by little, by stages, and as long as we nourish it through prayers and service, we will put forth “branches” and bear fruit.
There are no short cuts to spiritual growth. Much like the growth of a plant, it will be an organic process. Along the way, there will be storms and other problems but the growth process will continue. Sometimes we ask why it seems that we are not growing at all. The key is patience and perseverance.
Anyone who undergoes this spiritual journey will become more loving, understanding and calm. He knows through experience that growth is a slow process. That is why, even if we spend more and more time in the church, we cannot be proud to claim that we have already become like Jesus. Serving more is not necessarily a sign of growing because of different motivation. God knows the desires of our heart. If our only motivation in serving Him is to love Him, then spiritual growth is sure to come our way.