27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): Giving Worth
(Adults, you could begin by listening to the Gospel reading with your child. The reflection only mentions the mustard seed, but I think embodies both halves of the passage.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, the apostles want something that only God can give. Jesus wants them to understand what they are asking for.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
What is going on here?
In North America, we have mustard weeds which have fairly small seeds, like this:
But in Israel, the mustard seeds look like this:
So much tinier. Are they worth much? Not at all. They look like specks of dirt, or flecks of pepper—something to be swept away like garbage. Dropped onto the ground, we would never find them. They are too small. No one wants them. They are worthless.
Is Jesus saying that faith is worthless?
What can that worthless little mustard seed do? Actually, it is quite remarkable. Wherever they land, they begin to grow. They grow to become great shrubs, sometimes even a tree:
How can it? Inside that impossibly small mustard seed is the power of life. And life is strong. Who places the power of life inside that seed?
We know. Without the power of life that God places inside of it, a mustard seed can do nothing. It would be nothing. Useless. Worthless. But with the strength of God, it can do what God wants. It can grow.
The apostles know this, too. They know who Jesus is. That is why they are asking him for faith.
Is a mustard seed proud of itself for growing the way God wants it to?
Does a mustard tree look around and say, "Look what I have done! Look how I have grown!"?
Or does it instead, stretch out its branches to the One who gives it life as if to say, "Look what you have done!"?
Without God, those mustard seeds do not amount to much. But God chooses to give them life. And God chooses to give us life. And a purpose. To God, we are important; we are not too little. At our Baptism, God gives us a mission that only we can do. This is our faith. God pours into us more worth than we could ever possibly need so that we might work with God to build the Kingdom.
So what do we do?
We stretch out our arms as if to say, "Look what you have done!"