I, the Lord, bring low the high tree and lift high the lowly tree.
They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.
2 Corinthians 5:6–10
The lives of all are to be revealed before the tribunal of Christ.
The reign of God is like a mustard seed.
Background on the Gospel Reading
After Lent, the Easter season, and three Sundays of feast days—Pentecost, Most Holy Trinity, and Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ—the Church returns to Ordinary Time. This Sunday’s Gospel from Mark carries a significant message regarding faith and the Kingdom of God.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus appears reluctant to reveal his identity as the Son of God. After performing miracles of healing, he warns those cured to tell no one (see Mark 1:44, 3:12, 5:43, 7:36, and 8:26). Also, when preaching, Jesus chooses to speak to the crowds in parables, leaving them to discern his message. Only to his disciples does he explain the parable’s meaning, and he does this in private at a later time.
Today’s Gospel Reading consists of two parables about seeds. In the first, Jesus tells those gathered that this is “how it is with the kingdom of God.” A man scatters seed which over time sprouts and develops. Then when the grain is ripe, the man harvests his crop. The emphasis in the parable is on the seed, which seemingly has the power to grow on its own. In this it is like the Kingdom of God. While on earth, Jesus planted the seeds of the kingdom by his life, miracles, teaching, and suffering. However, the kingdom is not yet fully established. Although already present in Jesus and his group of twelve, it has yet to come to fruition; just as the seed in the parable needs time to grow, so does God’s kingdom.
The second parable focuses on the tiny mustard seed. Though not the smallest of all seeds, it is most likely the smallest that a first-century farmer in Jesus’ part of the world would have sown. Small as the mustard seed is, it develops into a tree. Though the mustard tree generally averages only nine to twelve feet in height, it has a wide expanse and provides a nesting place for birds. Just as the tree welcomes the birds, so is God’s kingdom welcoming and open to many.
These parables help us discern something about the kingdom of God and our own faith. In God we live and move and have our being, but God is a mystery and his kingdom, though present, has not yet come into its fullness. Today, the Kingdom of God is present in the Church. The mission of proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom given to the Apostles is now given to us. But just as seeds need time to come to fruition, so does the Kingdom of God. That is why in the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “thy kingdom come.” We know that it will come in its fullness at the end of time. All we need is faith.