Vol.6 No.4 DoM Gospel Reflection
27th Sunday Ordinary Time—2 October 2016
Hi, I’m Kara Frazer. I have been a teacher since 2000. I’ve had experience teaching 5th grade for six years 4th grade for two years and 3-year-old preschool for two years. I’m very comfortable around children and tend to even think like a child at times. Forgive me if this reflection is too simple. I’m used to preparing lessons for a younger audience, but hopefully we will all walk away with inspired attitudes to be happy servants and sowers! I had finished my reflection completely and ready to submit it when I happened upon this small article about the Pope. I knew the Holy Spirit wanted me to include these words. Honestly, this is a perfect summary of what I hope you walk away with after my talk.
On December 15, 2014, Pope Francis visited a parish in Rome and during the visit, the Holy Father addressed the newly baptized, remarking:
“A child always says a word of hope with his being; a child always goes forward, he leads us to the future … He is a seed of the future.” He notes that parents cannot help but look at their children and wonder about their future, praying that God protect them. With Baptism, the Pope said to the parents, “you gave the faith, you transmitted the faith through the Sacrament, but after many years, they will do the same with their children, and thus the faith – from the time of Jesus to today – is like a chain that is transmitted by parents.” He urged all the people there to remember and celebrate the day they were baptized: “a feast day, that is, it is the day that we encountered Jesus for the first time.”
Now, I’d like to flip flop the two stories from today’s gospel and begin with
Luke’s words in Chapter 17 7-10 . This passage shocked me at first. I was disappointed how the the servant was treated. My Southern hospitality roots would say, “Come on in, sit and eat, join me!” I would not expect to be served.
I continued to reread the passage and it occurred to me that Jesus is explaining that the servant is actually serving God. We are all servants of God. As servants we need to be humble women ready to do God’s will. We are all chosen to do different jobs for God.
The place at the table is our seat in Heaven. We know that Jesus has assured each of us that there is room in Heaven. He would not have told us this if it were untrue.
The servant should continue to complete the work for his master until his master is satisfied and in return the master will be grateful to the servant.
As servants of God, we are expected to do God’s will throughout our lives. We should consider our attitudes towards our work. We can treat our daily work in a negative way as one long grueling task or we can work for God day by day and be obliged to do so. Afterall our hope of true reward is a place at God’s table in Heaven.
Just as the servant did not get invited to the table immediately, we do not get immediate results from a little hard work. For example weight loss. I’ve never lost weight from just walking one mile. Or a marathon runner can’t take credit of achievement only having run 5 miles. I’ve never earned an A on a term paper by just completing an opening paragraph.
Jesus is presenting to the disciples that conversion into a place at God’s table takes a lifetime of work, grace, and it is not immediate. He said to them in Luke Ch 9 “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” We too should happily serve others, take up our crosses whatever they may be, in hopes of being welcome to the Kingdom of God.
Now in the gospel we just read the disciples asked Jesus, “increase our faith!” and Jesus gave his well known parable of the Mustard Seed. The four gospels capture the parable in slightly different ways.
Mark in chapter 4 recounts Jesus’ words with “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when sown in the ground, is the smallest of all seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.
Matthew states in chapter 13 that Jesus said, “The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, yet when full grown it is the largest of plants.
Matthew then again recounts Jesus’ words in chapter 17 with “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there; and it will move. NOthing will be impossible for you.”
Although the mustard plant is not mentioned in the Old Testament, the people of Israel could visualize this parable easily because it was well-known in Palestine. The mustard plant has very tiny seeds and are fast growing plants They are deep rooted and almost impossible to eradicate once their roots take hold of the soil. The actual bush is extraordinarily larger compared to the seed planted. It has bright yellow leaves and can provide shade from the sun for both people and animals. When in full bloom it could look like a bright sun throughout a field.
Looking back on the history of the church we can fully appreciate what Jesus explained to his disciples and the people of Israel 2000 years ago. Christianity started from very small beginnings but has truly been planted throughout our world and grown tremendously.
For years my children have asked me, “Why?” or “What if?” questions. The teacher in me is usually obliged to take a moment to teach them something new. One of my childlike “What if?” questions is this: What would Jesus present as a parable for us living in America today that would help us visualize his intentions from His mustard seed parable?….
I believe he would tell us the Kingdom of God can be like an aspen seed. Once an aspen tree is planted it grows quickly and stems sprout from the same root system creating a very dense clone of genetically identical aspen trees. Each tree is part of a much larger organism and when large ones die they are replaced by new clones. Aspen tree clones can live tens of thousands of years and stretch from Canada to Mexico. They can survive a wide variety of climates and are some of the first trees to pop up after forest fires. Essentially, they are nearly impossible to eradicate once they take hold of the soil.
As mothers, grandmothers, wives, daughters, aunts, godmothers and friends, we are gathered here to learn more about Jesus’s intentions for our lives. We hope to truly have a place at God’s banquet in heaven at the end of our own lives and those of our loved ones.
Perhaps this gospel could inspire us to be servants who are happy to sow God’s word throughout our families and friends. I believe, just as Pope Francis mentioned, the Holy Spirit provides the fertile soil for us through baptism. We as parents and friends can sow the seeds of faith in our families and create faith filled communities much like an aspen clone that can withstand all of life’s tribulations.
In Mark 4:14 he states “the sower sows the word,” and John 1:1 states “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God. All things came through him and without him nothing came to be.” John 1:3 says “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race.”
Can we sitting here, truly be faithful servants who sow the word of God throughout our daily lives so we can bring forth new life? Will our work of servitude help cultivate faith-filled communities of believers in Christ? Will the communities have strong prayer lives, value the 10 Commandments and strive to have a seat at God’s Heavenly banquet? We are asked to set the “world on fire with His light.” Well, in full bloom, the aspen leaves are as bright as the sun in the forest and can stretch throughout our entire United States.
Today we should consider: What seeds do we plant? Are they deep rooted?
If we continue to carefully tend to the seeds we sow and the trees of faith we help grow, it should be impossible to eradicate the deep-rooted faith in God throughout our families and faith communities. At the end of our lives may we be able to say to the Lord, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do. We have increased the faith of others and tried to set the world on fire with our love for you. For (Luke 14:15) Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God, and hopefully God will say to us, “My servant, with whom I am well pleased.” Amen