Scripture Reflections – Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Ez 17:22-24;  2Cor 5:6-10;  Mk 4:26-34

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Did you ever see a mustard seed?  I once bought a hunk of cheese that I didn’t like very much solely because I wanted to save the mustard seeds that had been mixed into the cheese.  (I’ll stop at nothing to give my students a visual aid in understanding the stories of the Bible!)  To this day I keep the preserved seeds on display on the prayer table in my classroom.

Mustard seeds are really tiny – I’ve never actually seen a seed that’s smaller.  And one day, it occured to me: in an age long before human beings had any idea about the existence of  living things and particles much too small for the human eye to see – the mustard seed must have been the smallest thing that Jesus ever saw.

When Jesus tells us that if we have faith “the size of a mustard seed” we can uproot mountains, what he’s really saying is that all we need is the slightest amount of Faith – just a smidge – and whole worlds of new possibilities open up before our eyes.   We begin, very quietly and subtley at first, to live within the kingdom of God in the here and now.

This is precisely the kind of living St. Paul has in mind when he directs us to “walk by faith, not by sight.”  There is an exhuberant and delightful dance of matter and spirit going on all around us.  Just as there are various subatomic particles – the mustard seeds of our day – constantly coming and going in and out of existence, so there are opportunities to transform our lives and our world – and our Church –  right before our eyes.   Yet all of these “mustard seeds”  cannot be perceived throught the eyes in our head and the brain of which they are an extensison, but only through the eyes of the heart.  And these eyes can only see if they are opened by Christ through the gift of Faith.

How does reality change when we look through this second set of eyes?  Here’s my example:   At this particular time my job security is a little wobbly.  For weeks now I’ve been worrying – at times obsessing – about how I’m going to balance my domestic budget in the year to come.  And then, one day, a small, simple thought – about the size of a mustard seed –  occurred to me.  The most important question staring me in the face right now is NOT, “How will I make ends meet?”   The most important question staring me in the face right now is: ” Where is God leading me in my ministry at this time?”

Just a mustard seed worth of Faith.  That’s all.  Try it.  Let me know what happens.

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

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