Ordinary Time - Week 11b

The Mustard Seed

(From Conversation with God, Fernandez Carvajal)

Our Lord chose a few men to begin the work of evangelization. For the most part they were humble fishermen, unlettered men, with evident defects and few material resources. He chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. Looking at things from a purely human point of view, it is impossible to explain how these men could have spread the teaching of Christ to the whole known world in so short a time, with so many obstacles and so much opposition to overcome. In the parable of the grain of mustard seed, writes St John Chrysostom, Jesus urges his disciples to have faith and to be confident that the preaching of the Gospel will be carried out in spite of everything.

We too are like that grain of mustard seed in the task given us by God in the middle of the world. We ought not to forget the disproportion between the means we have, our talents, and the magnitude of the apostolate we have to do. But neither should we forget that we can always count on God's help. Difficulties will come and we will be more aware of our own nothingness. This should bring us to have more trust in the Master and in the supernatural character of the task we are trying to accomplish. If we don't lose sight of our littleness and the power of grace we will be always strong and faithful in what God asks of us. If we do not keep our eyes fixed on Jesus we will become discouraged and pessimistic and will soon abandon the task. With God we can do all things.

The Apostles and first Christians faced a society threatened in its very foundations; a society in which it was well nigh impossible to have ideals. Working from within society, Christians changed it. There the seed fell, then spread to the whole world. Although it was a small seed it carried a divine power, because the seed was Christ's. The first Christians who came to Rome were no different from ourselves, and with God's help were able to do an effective apostolate, working shoulder to shoulder, in the same jobs as everyone else, facing the same problems, obeying the same laws, unless they were directly contrary to the law of God. Truly the first Christians in Jerusalem, Antioch and Rome were tiny mustard seeds seemingly lost in a huge field.

God counts on us to transform the place where we live and work. Although what we can do may seem small and insignificant, like the grain of mustard seed, let us not neglect to do what we can, because God counts on that contribution. With our prayer and sacrifice He will ensure that there is growth and fruit. That 'little' we can do may be advising a colleague or friend to read a particular book; or being attentive to a client, fellow passenger or workmate; or giving a helping hand when needed; or praying for a sick friend or a neighbour's child, and asking that they pray for us; or helping someone get to Confession. And always living a cheerful, honest life. Everybody should be discreetly, quietly and daringly apostolic. This can be so if we remain united to God, if we reject a comfort-loving existence, if we overcome lukewarmness and discouragement. The time in which we are called to live demands especially that we feel deeply obliged to be always zealous and enthusiastic. We will be so only if we struggle. Only the person who makes a strenuous effort is suitable for bringing the world peace, the peace of Christ.