The daily Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday Cycle B of the 11th Week of Ordinary Time is Mark 4:26-34.

Christ continues to reveal truths about the Kingdom of God as He preaches by the sea with two additional parables that use common agriculture imagery which was familiar to the multitude. In these parables, Christ describes the mysterious working of God in the world to build His Kingdom through the Catholic Church.

The Parable of the Growing Seed describes the mysterious way by which God works to build His Kingdom in the world. A farmer scatters seeds but does not know why the “dead” seed sprouts or why it grows; he cannot control the systematic process by which a plant grows and bears fruit. Likewise, the establishment and growth of the Kingdom of God is a divine work which men can not fully comprehend; men can cooperate or not, effecting themselves and others, but cannot hasten nor stop the growth of God’s divine plan. Ultimately the harvest comes; in biblical terms, the harvest represents the coming Judgment.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed builds on the common rabbinical proverbial reference of the mustard seed as the smallest seed. Christ describes that the mustard seed grows into the greatest of shrubs, becoming as large as a tree in which birds can nest. The parable builds on Old Testament references to a coming kingdom that would be a great tree that gathers many nations (Ezek 31:2-13; Dan 4:17-18). Like the mustard tree provides a home and savory seeds which feed the birds, the Church will be home to multitudes (birds is an allusion to the Gentile nations), feeding them with most savory of food, the Eucharist. For the individual, the parable reveals while most start with a small faith, with time and persistence of prayer (see Luke 11:1-13) every soul can grow into sainthood.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ uses common themes (of trees, in this example) which were “planted” in the Old Testament. Divine Teacher, Christ reveals the Kingdom of Heaven with innovative parables that still draw men two millennia later. Divine Prophet, Christ accurately describes the worldwide growth of the Church. Divine King, Jesus inspire His disciples with parables that instill lasting hope, overcoming uncertainty about the promise of the Kingdom.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) From the small band of only about 120 early disciples, the Church has over 1 billion members; there are another billion+ Christians who are not yet in full communion with Christ’s Church.  Marvel at Christ’s divine confidence and accurate prediction of a worldwide Church.

2) Like the mysterious growth of seeds, the Kingdom of God on earth is made manifest in the growth of the Catholic Church. Renew your understanding of the mystery of the Holy Catholic Church (CCC 748-780) and pray for Christ to continue to bless His Church and reveal how He wishes to use you to build His Church.

3) Dwelling on the spreading cultural decay and the turmoil and apostasy in the Church can lead to despair. Return to Hope (CCC 1817-1821), holding firm to Christ’s promise that the Kingdom of Heaven continues to grow in mysterious ways.