I have not seen a mustard plant before. I have seen pictures of one, but not an actual plant. I have seen mustard seeds, though, and I must say that they are remarkable. They are remarkable because they are so tiny, no bigger than a grain of sand. I received a bag of them at a training once, and hundreds of them were able to fit on the face of a quarter. From this tiny seed comes a large plant, one that can grow as tall as eight feet.
Though I have not seen a literal mustard plant, I have seen figurative ones. I have seen them in the children that participate in the formation programs that I oversee, when they leave their classes eager to use their new knowledge and by their participation in the Sacrament liturgies. I have seen them in my children’s classmates at St. Monica, when they gather together to celebrate Mass and through the strong foundation they are gaining in their Catholic faith. I have seen them in the catechists and teachers at our churches and schools, when they share their tremendous gifts with the children they care for. I have seen them in the clergy and the laity, when they do work for and through the Church. I have seen them in my family, when we mark our day with prayer and do our best to live Christian lives. And I have seen them in all of you, as we work together to carry out the mission of Christ on earth. Wherever the seeds of faith have been planted, there is growth. As the first part of the Gospel tells us, we may not know how, but we know it happens.
The Gospel Acclamation for today says “the seed is the Word of God, Christ is the sower.” I feel this is an apt comparison to the work of God in our world. The tree that is planted in the first reading from the book of Ezekiel represents the beauty and fertility of the Davidic house, the line that Jesus will someday come from. Scholars note that this tree can be likened to the cosmic tree, or one tree which draws sustenance from the earth and provides many things for all of creation.
In the second reading from the letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul explains that it is necessary to live a good life and the preserve our bodies because we will someday appear before the judgement seat and our place in the afterlife will be determined. The Jews at the time thought that those who died before them were among the righteous dead in Heaven, but there was no sense of resurrection or eternal life until Christ came. St. Paul’s insistence on living wisely was an attempt to put to rest any remaining ideas new converts to Christianity had that disparaged the body, and to equip people with what they needed live a good life.
St. Paul also noted that we should walk by faith and not by sight. As we go forth in a few moments to receive Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist, let us walk with tremendous faith and remember the great things we can do in this world with what he has planted in us.