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Molly CahillJanuary 27, 2023
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

Find today’s readings here.

“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
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.” (Mk 4:30-32)

In our offices at America Media, we sometimes struggle to keep our plants alive. I’m far from the lead gardener, but the plants have become kind of like a group project, and we’re all invested in seeing them thrive. I’ve received photos of dried and drooping leaves from a colleague after a long weekend: “The plant is dead. Like, so dead. RIP.” The more experienced plant caretakers among us give tips and clip stems. We start again, with a new resolve to grow something beautiful we can all share.

Watching growth, and being part of it, is exciting. That’s the heart of the parable in today’s Gospel reading from Mark, comparing the kingdom of God to a tiny mustard seed. It’s a testament to small beginnings. A seed doesn’t seem like much, but we can all agree: Those branches and leaves and flowers that it will become are something marvelous. Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God is like this, a humble beginning that will eventually transform, providing shelter and warmth and beauty.

In the small beginnings that make up everyday life, may we wait in hope for the growth that is to come.

Now that I think about it, growth is just about the holiest thing I can think of. I picture those magical days here in New York City when spring begins and everyone is buzzing, taking in the light and the warmth for the first time in months, and coming out of hiding to share in the beauty with neighbors. I think of the children in my family and how joyful it has been for me to watch them get older, learn more about themselves and the world, and each become someone totally precious and unrepeatable. I think of the changes I have seen in myself over the past few years, the ways I have grown in confidence and compassion, navigating challenges that once would have felt insurmountable but now instead feel like hard things I can do. Perhaps most powerfully, I give thanks for the many communities of which I am lucky to count myself as a small part. As their numbers grow and relationships become tighter, the blossoming is a kind of power you can feel.

Our stop-and-go office plant journey is a reminder that growth isn’t linear. But in some small way, while our plants sprout and then droop and then sprout and then droop again, our friendships and our care for each other are growing, too. A little piece of the kingdom of God for me, literally beginning with a seed, just as today’s parable promised.

My prayer is that all communities, particularly in our church, might be a bit more like this. In the small beginnings that make up everyday life, may we wait in hope for the growth that is to come. As we rest under the branches of community and faith that have already grown, may we look back and remember what they were like when they were no more than seeds—and say thank you, God.

More: Scripture

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