11th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): The Grace of God
(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
This Sunday we return to the season of "Ordinary Time" after all these weeks of feasting. People often think of ordinary as "not exciting" or "not special." But "ordinary" is actually just a fancy way of saying that we order the Sundays with numbers--first, second, third... This Sunday is the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, and next Sunday will be the twelfth, and so on. The colour for this season is green. It is a special time, because now we hear more about the Kingdom of God.
“With what can we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?”
Jesus spends a lot of time telling parables about the Kingdom of God. We can tell that he has spent a lot of time thinking about it. He knows something important. Jesus wants so much for us to know about the Kingdom of God, too. His parables are like little mysteries; the more we think about the parable, the closer we come to the mystery of the Kingdom of God.
It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 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.”
We know that seeds come in all shapes and sizes, and from them, many different types of plants grow.
This is a mustard seed from Israel, the kind of seed that Jesus is talking about:
We can see his point. It is tiny.
What does it look like? If we did not know that it is a mustard seed, we might think it is a fleck of dirt, or perhaps, a little bit of pepper. It looks like nothing. We probably wouldn't think of it at all, but would just brush it away, or wipe it up. It is too small. If we did not know it is a mustard seed, we would have no idea how close we are to something with so much strength...
...because what can that mustard seed do? Somehow, somehow, it can become the greatest of shrubs--a home for the birds of the air.
Impossible. It is too tiny. How can it grow? Too much can go wrong.
But the mustard seed does not know it is too tiny. It does not know it is impossibly small. It just grows.
How can it do that? How can it have the strength? So much change has to happen. It would be impossible unless...
unless something great fills it with strength.
Who could that something be?
The mustard seed is humble. It does not worry that it is too small. It simply allows God's strength to fill it. We can say that it says "yes" to God. God gives this gift of strength freely to the mustard seed. This is called grace. Filled with grace, look what the mustard seed can become!
In Israel, these mustard shrubs are everywhere. Impossibly small mustard seeds are growing and changing all the time! God's grace is everywhere!
Is God's grace only in the mustard seeds? What about those other seeds? They grow and change, all the time, too. Do they allow themselves to be filled with the strength of God, too?
Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like this:
the tiny, filled with the grace of God, become something so great.
Over and over, here among us.
We wonder if this means that the Kingdom of God is actually among us now.
We have to ask, then--what about us? We start impossibly small inside of our mothers! There was a time when we were smaller even than the mustard seed. We were so small that even our mothers did not know we were there.
But who did know?
If God takes notice of mustard seeds and fills them with strength, what will happen if we say "yes" to God, too? Can we allow God's grace to fill us, too?