11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
26 And he said: "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed
upon the ground,
27 and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout
and grow, he knows not how.
28 The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the
full grain in the ear.
29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because
the harvest has come."
30 And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what
parable shall we use for it?
31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all
shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can
make nests in its shade."
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able
to hear it;
34 he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own
disciples he explained everything.
- A parable is "a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life,
arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the
mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into
active thought" (C. H. Dodd). With parables, Jesus uses what is familiar
to describe what is unfamiliar to us: the kingdom of God. The reader is
asked to look at his familiar world in a new way--God's way.
- "The kingdom of God" is not a place; it really means "the reign of
God." "The kingdom of God is like..." illustrates what happens when
God's will is done on earth as perfectly as it is done in heaven. The
seed is God's word. Both parables emphasize the mysterious growth of the
- (vv.26-28) The first parable contrasts the helplessness of man with the
power of God. The farmer sows, and then waits. He waits, because the
seed grows of its own accord, and he "knows not how."
As the seed inevitably grows to fruitfulness, so does God's word grow
inevitably to achieve the end for which it was sent. The lesson for us
is to be not anxious, be not proud. God's word grows not primarily from
our efforts, and grows out of proportion to our efforts.
- (v.29) The first parable concludes with an allusion to Joel 4:13;
the harvest is the day of judgment.
- (vv.30-32) In Palestine, a grain of mustard seed stands for the
smallest possible thing. For example, a person of little faith would be
said to have "faith as a grain of mustard seed." A mustard plant crowded
with birds is a common sight, since the plant has many black seeds which
birds feed on. The parable of the mustard seed contrasts a
beginning with an end--the smallness of the beginning and the greatness
of the end. The Church started with but a small band of uneducated
- (v.34) Jesus used parables to teach the public, but "explained
everything" to his disciples. The difference between the public and his
disciples is a matter of commitment.
One Main Point
The reign of God will grow to its fullness, despite all obstacles.
- Recall a small beginning that has blossomed into fruit--a change in
someone close to me that I did not expect, a change in my own
attitude or outlook of life. How patient am I with myself? with others? How
easily do I give up?
- How do I view the church today? Disappointed, anxious, frustrated? How
should I view the church?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community