Sunday, October 2, 2016

Start Small

The kids got an interactive version of this (with a little show-and-tell) at the 11:00am Mass. You can rest assured I got several reminders not to play with matches...

 Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time   C 

Life is full of examples of small things that end up becoming big things.  Think of the cute little puppy that used to curl up on your lap…and now knocks you over when you come through the door.  Think of the tiny misunderstanding with a friend…that somehow turned into World War III.  Think of the minor repair you needed to make in the kitchen…which ended in an extreme makeover.

This Sunday, the Church presents us with three examples of little things that can become big things.  In the gospel, Jesus speaks of faith that’s the size of a mustard seed.  In the second reading, St. Paul writes to Timothy of a small fire within: stirring into flame the gift of God we have received.  And on this Respect Life Sunday, we’re reminded of the tiny, hidden, vulnerable origins of each and every precious human life.

Within the smallest of seeds lie the largest of plants.  Even California redwoods sprout from a little seed.  A single match can be used to light a fire of many sizes: a candle or a campfire, for example; whether from carelessness or malice, it can also set ablaze a home or an entire forest.  Smaller yet than a match or a mustard seed is the human person it his first hours and days…but filled with almost limitless potential.

What’s it take for a seed to grow?  Soil and water, sunshine and fertilizer.  And how about a flame?  Air and fuel.  A child?  Food and drink, safe shelter and education…

But all three of these things take something else besides: they need space to grow.  Plant a seed in the wrong part of your garden, and that plant will be stunted, if it even comes up.  Without enough room, a fire will be stifled or snuffed out.  Around nine months, a child wants out of the womb…and will continue to need more and more space to crawl and run, to play and learn…

The examples of the seed and the flame that the Church gives us this Sunday are metaphors.  The seed represents faith; even a small amount can accomplish what seemed impossible.  The flame is the fire of the Holy Spirit, who guides us on our way.  The little child, of course, is no metaphor at all; life is God’s most fundamental gift—the one necessary before all others.

It is God, of course, who plants the seeds of faith, who lights the spark of his Spirit in our hearts, who alone is the source of new life.  And it’s God who provides all the fertilizer, all the fuel, and all the food required.  It falls to us to give each of these the room necessary to grow.  Faith is God’s gift, but it needs room to grow.  We need to give it more than an hour on Sunday morning.  If we want the Lord to increase our faith, as the apostles prayed, then we must more and more entrust ourselves to him—each day, and throughout the day.  The Holy Spirit who dwells within us is also the gift of God, but he, too, needs room to move.  If we desire to live a truly spiritual, Spirit-led life, then we must leave enough room to hear him speak and then follow the direction he shows us—not merely in theory, but in concrete practice.  Human life, of course, if God’s gift as well…but there’s less and less space set aside for it these days.  We need to make room for the gift of life in our families, in our society, in our laws—first and foremost, in each of our hearts—recognizing that life at its most vulnerable, in its first or last days, is not a burden that can be eliminated but a blessing to be embraced.

The prophet tells us that the just man, the righteous one, lives by faith.  The life of faith, the life of the Spirit, like the flesh-and-blood life of our bodies, is a heaven-sent gift.  God plants the seed and lights the spark.  God provides all the food and the fuel we need.  Let’s make sure we always leave plenty of room for God's gifts to grow.

1 comment:

Melvin Windley said...
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