11th Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            Some months ago, I planted some seeds. My youngest nephew, Emmanuel, was with me. After two weeks, Emmanuel went back to the place where I planted the seeds and saw some sprouts.

            Then, he came to me with some questions, of course. One question I could not answer, in a way that would make sense to a 7-year-old boy, was: “Papa Pari, how did it grow? Who made it grow?” The only answer I could afford to give then was: “God made it grow.” And he reacted by saying, “Eh, di wow!” J But, really, how do you answer that question without getting too technical to a fault? “How does a seed grow?”

            Jesus, in today’s gospel reading, compares the kingdom of God to a scattered seed growing by itself. The farmer does not make the seed grow. In the last analysis, he does not even understand how it grows. As the gospel passage puts it: “the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.”Kahit na iwan o kalimutan o pabayaan ng nagtanim ang binhi, eh, tutubo’t tutubo, lalaki’t lalaki ang binhi. It acts on its own power.

            Jesus is telling us that this is how the kingdom of God works in our lives and in the world. Its beginning is rather small, but given time, it grows into something big.

            Perhaps, when you hear the term “the kingdom of God,” you immediately think of heaven, or of a place somewhere in the next life, or of a highfalutin idea, isang lutang na kaisipan. The fact is, the kingdom of God that Jesus proclaims is not something so abstract, remote, and distant. It is something concrete. Jesus says, “the kingdom of God is at hand”abot kamay na! The kingdom of God is here, within our reach, unfolding right before our eyes.

            More often than not, we look for the kingdom of God in “big things.” We expect that it would manifest itself in “big ways.” We wait for God to use extraordinary events to show it. But this is not what today’s gospel is saying about the Kingdom.

            Today’s gospel parables about the kingdom are telling us: Big things come from small beginnings. The insignificant can become important. The ordinary can become special. Whatever we have, not matter how ordinary, can contribute in the building up of the kingdom of God. Whatever we are, unskilled or average, can be used to make a difference.

            Indeed, the kingdom of God is manifested in little things. It is there in every kind remark said to a stranger, in every affirming word given to the discouraged, in every uplifting message extended to somebody feeling down. It is there in every generous deed shared to the needy, in every expression of compassion shown to the poor, in every act of solidarity extended to the oppressed. It is there in every decision to forgive the offender, in every step towards dialogue and reconciliation, in every prayer for healing and restoration. It is there in every loving thought people have for one another, in every service rendered by a parishioner to the community, in every effort to live out the spirituality of stewardship and in every commitment to mission partnership. It is there in every good news texted, tweeted, or posted, in every word meant to counter bad news and fake news, in every social medial platform used to foster goodness and kindness, honesty and decency, friendship and fellowship, magnanimity and charity. We must always remember this: Every good deed expands God’s kingdom and brings it to fruition and fulfillment.

            Jesus also compares the growth of God’s kingdom to a mustard seed. Bagaman ang binhi ng mustasa ay isa sa pinakamaliit na binhi, pero kapag ito ay tinanim at tumubo, ito ay lumalaki. The point is: What God has started does not remain small. It will grow big – significantly and exceedingly big!

            What are your mustard seeds? We all have them. God has given each one of us a pouch full of ‘mustard seeds’. They are the gifts and blessings, the talents and abilities, the goods and resources, assets and capitals that God has generously provided to us. We have many valuable seeds to spread around! The mustard seeds that we give to our neighbor will take roots, sprout, grow, and produce good things for God’s kingdom. So, let us take and sow our mustard seeds.

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