January 27, 2023
by Cindy Murphy McMahon
Creighton University's University Communications and Marketing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

Hebrews 10:32-39
Psalm 37:3-4, 5-6, 23-24, 39-40
Mark 4:26-34

Praying Ordinary Time

A Matter of the Heart: Prayer as Relationship

In the gospel of Mark, we gain many insights into Jesus’ humanity, as well as his teaching methods. Today’s reading from Mark 4 relays two beautiful, simple lessons Jesus gave to his listeners in a very agrarian society. But today these teachings are just as relevant because, while many may not directly make their living through agriculture, almost everyone has planted seeds, whether to grow grass or flowers or backyard vegetables.

The tiny, dry seed, which could so easily be cast aside, ignored or trampled underfoot, is not what it seems. Its future status is nothing like what it appears to the naked eye. It is so, so much more than it seems. As Jesus says, this is how it is with the Kingdom of God.

The dry little seed contains a life force, and so does the Kingdom. We cannot see it or touch it with our senses initially, but the life force is there nonetheless. The Kingdom of God starts small in our hearts. Just an idea, a glimmer, an inkling. A kind word or blessing from someone else. But if it is allowed to grow, if it is nurtured with faith, hope and love, just like the seed that receives the sunlight and water it needs, it will grow in us – and through us to others.

Today would have been my parents’ 72nd anniversary if they were still living. I think of the unforeseen legacy that was first planted on that snowy day in Chicago when they spoke their vows. They could not see, could not have imagined, the many people who would be touched by their love, their commitment to each other and to God – some who would not even have existed otherwise, including me, their three grandsons, and five great-grandchildren, with another on the way. They nurtured their love and the result was a beautiful ripple effect that endures.

Each fall, I usually let my potted annual flowers die with the first frost. But this year, I had a particularly vibrant red geranium that I had grown from a seedling. I couldn’t bare to let it die. I brought it inside and did nothing more than let it sit by a sunny window, giving it occasional water. Surprisingly, we had a beautiful red and green plant for the Christmas season and it is still blooming and growing strong, now a foot tall and nearly as wide.

As Jesus said, that’s how it is with the Kingdom of God. The invisible life force that God has planted in each of us and in all living things will grow “of its own accord” if it is not thwarted. May we recognize that seed within ourselves and in all those we meet along our paths, trusting always in our Creator and Savior.

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