It is timely that as we re-enter into the Ordinary of the Year, our gospel reading presents the two parables of Mark on the kingdom of God. The first tells of the sower who scatters seeds which grow by themselves until they mature and bear bountiful harvest. The second is about the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds which becomes the largest of plants. Both parables illustrate how the kingdom of God works in our ordinary life.
By now we are familiar with the meaning of the kingdom of God. It is not some divine territory, much less a political entity. Rather it refers to a regime, God’s manner of running things. Thus “reign” would be a better translation of the original, basileia, than “kingdom.” I explain it simply by saying that the kingdom of God is where God is king, where he rules, where he is obeyed. This is precisely what is meant in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”
The parables provide us valuable insights into how God works in our life. The story of the sower reminds us that the kingdom of God is God’s, not ours. He provides the seed and sustains its growth. As the sower sleeps and rises night and day, the seed grows without his knowing how. And so it is with life. The parable thus invites us to entrust ourselves to the Lord of life. “All shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich) All that is asked of us is to do our share – to seek and do God’s will. This certainly is a great consolation especially in these difficult times of the pandemic and political uncertainty.
Growth is slow and imperceptible, and often we do not have the patience to wait. We are used to instant coffee, fast food, express lane…We want quick results and instant gratification.
One morning, Zorba, the Greek, chanced upon a cocoon and witnessed how the butterfly was struggling to get out of its case. Intending to help hasten its liberation, Zorba leaned to warm it with his breath. Eventually, the young butterfly came out, landed on his palm, shook itself momentarily to unfold its crumpled wings, and died. Zorba suddenly felt that the little body lying in his hand was the greatest weight on his conscience.
God has his own time. And “in his time, he makes all things beautiful…”
The parable of the mustard seed shows the contrast between the tiny beginnings of the kingdom and its immensity and greatness in the end. Just as the tiny mustard seed grows vigorously to become a tree where birds take refuge in its shade, the kingdom of God starts small and expands to embrace every people and nation.
The kingdom of God is “a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” (Preface of Christ the King) Grand as it is, it has its humble beginning in the human heart. “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Lk 17:21)
The kingdom of God starts small, and it starts with us. Mother Teresa tells us, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family,” And so with world peace. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
How we wish our society reflects the kingdom of God with a leadership that is more concerned with the people’s welfare and the common good. In truth, the realization of such wish starts with us, if we vote for the right people in government. Alex Lacson has written a precious little book entitled, “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country.” Surprisingly, these humble suggestions are what constitute the foundation for a strong and great society. Such, too, are the ways of the kingdom.*