1) Opening prayer
All-powerful and ever-living God,
direct your love that is within us,
that our efforts in the name of your Son
may bring mankind to unity and peace.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
on God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 4, 26-34
Jesus said, 'This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, at once he starts to reap because the harvest has come.'
He also said, 'What can we say that the kingdom is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which, at the time of its sowing, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth. Yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.' Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were by themselves.
• It is always beautiful to see Jesus, who sought in life and in events, new elements and images which could help people to perceive and experience the presence of the Kingdom In today’s Gospel, once again, he narrates two brief stories which take place every day in the life of all of us: “The story of the seed that grows by itself” and “the story of the small mustard seed which grows into the biggest shrub”.
• The story of the seed which grows alone. The farmer who plants knows the process: seed, the green sprout, leaf, spike, grain. The farmer knows how to wait, he does not cut down the grain before it is time. But he does not know how the soil, the rain, the sun and the seed have this force or strength to make the plant grow from nothing until it bears fruit. This is how the Kingdom of God is. It is a process, there are stages and moments of growth. It takes place in time. It produces fruit at the just moment, but nobody knows how to explain its mysterious force. Nobody, not even the landlord. Only God!
• The story of the small mustard seed which grows and becomes big. The mustard seed is small, but it grows and at the end, the birds make their nests in its branches. This is how the Kingdom is. It begins very small, it grows and it extends its branches. The parable leaves an open question which will receive a response later on in the Gospel: Who are the birds? The text suggests that it is a question of the Pagans who will not be able to enter into the community and participate in the Kingdom.
• Because Jesus teaches by means of the Parables. Jesus tells many parables. All are taken from the life of the people! In this way he helped persons to discover the things of God in daily life, a life which becomes transparent. Because what is extraordinary of God is hidden in the ordinary and common things of daily life. People understood the things of life. In the parables they received the key to open it and to find in it the signs of God.
4) Personal questions
• Jesus does not explain the Parables. He tells the stories and awakens in others the imagination and the reflection of the discovery. What have you discovered in these two Parables?
• The objective of the words is to render life transparent. Has your life become more transparent throughout the years, or has the contrary taken place?
5) Concluding Prayer
Have mercy on me, O God, in your faithful love,
in your great tenderness wipe away my offences;
wash me clean from my guilt,
purify me from my sin. (Ps 51,1-2)