Sunday, May 26, 2013

To Cultivate the Mustard Seed

Now in the same way that our secret faults cause tremors at the surface no matter how well we've hidden them (as I write about here - Our Faults Become Fissures of Men), so something else hidden within us eventually shows forth.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”  (Mark 4:26-32)

Every day we members of the Fraternity of St. Genesius pray an extra mystery of the Rosary - the Hidden Life of Jesus.  This refers to the time in Our Lord's life that we know nothing of - the silent period between Mary and Joseph Finding Him in the Temple at age 12 to the beginning of His Public Ministry at about age 30.

Why such a long period of preparation for the Son of Man?  What was going on quietly in the workshop in Nazareth all those years?

What goes on when the seed takes root in the dark and hidden soil, while we sleep?

Something similar happens to the Apostle Paul.  Shortly after his miraculous conversion, he travels to Jerusalem and meets with Peter and James.  Then he is sent quickly away from Jerusalem and has what some scholars count as up to 14 years of "preparation time", the "Hidden Life of Paul", before he begins his First Missionary Journey.  14 years of silence - about which we hear almost nothing in Scripture - years that must have included prayer, study, and "workshop productions" (as we call them in showbiz) - dress rehearsals for ministry.  The Hidden Life of Jesus in the carpenter's workshop in Nazareth; the Hidden Life of Paul in the tent maker's workshop in Tarsus.

Both Our Lord and the Apostle are showing us the mystery that Jesus describes in parables above.

But here's the important part - while our hidden faults will cause tremors and earthquakes that kill and maim, the Mustard Seed within - the Hidden Life in our Hidden Lives - can bear fruit abundantly; for our hidden sins are death, while our hidden glory is the Spirit of God within us.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  (Col 3:3)

Realize that, if you can - we bear within us the hidden seed or the germ that can blossom into sanctity and Eternal Life - if we cultivate it; or at least if we don't smother it with sin and resistance; for it will grow of its own with just a little cooperation on our part.

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.  (1 Cor. 3:6)

Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange says that sanctifying grace (the grace that we receive at Baptism and that is restored to us when we are absolved at Confession) is nothing less than the Kingdom of God within us, the beginning of Eternal Life here and now ...

Fundamentally, the same divine life exists as a germ or a seed in the Christian on earth and as a fully developed life in the saints in heaven. ... This explains why Christ said also: "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day." (John 6:55) "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say: Behold here or behold there. For lo, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21)  It is hidden there like the mustard seed, like the leaven which causes the dough to rise, like the treasure buried in the field.

We all have faults and sins that lead to earthquakes and suffering for us and for others.

But we Christians all have the grace of God - the Kingdom - within us, though hidden in the same way the underground fault lines are hidden.

May we mortify the one and cultivate the other.  The fault line is the flesh, which dies; the grace is the Spirit, which lives.

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  (Gal. 6:8)

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