“In the kingdom of God it is like this: a man scatters seed upon the soil. Whether he is a sleep or awake, be it day or night, the seed sprouts and grows, he knows not how. The soil produces of itself: first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain I the ear. And when it is ripe for harvesting, they take the sickle for the cutting; the time for harvest has come. Jesus also said , “What is the kingdom of God like? To what shall we compare it? It is like a mustard seed which, when sown, is the smallest of all the seeds scattered upon the soil. But once sown, it grows up and becomes the largest of the plants I the garden, and even grows branches so big, that the birds of the air can take shelter in its shade.” Jesus used many stories, in order to proclaim the word to them in a way that they would be able to understand. He would not teach them without parables; but privately to his disciples he explained everything.
—Mark 4: 26-34
When we were born, our parents and families provided us the situation and opportunity to grow to become a healthy child and eventually grow towards maturity. We had our first school at home and when the time came, we were sent to a formal school of learning.
Growth is a biological term; through the process of germination, the seed germinates and become a seedling and eventually turns into a full grown plant. Living beings and things grow, both animals and plants alike. For people, growing is not just a physical change that is taking place, growth for a person is when he/she will come to age, growing is the entire process of becoming and reaching the present state of life.
When one receives heartily the Word of God, then one grows in faith. The Christian faith will lead him/ her to the right direction and its goal: Christ. When we grow in the love of God, people will come to us to have an experience of that love; like the mustard seed that grew into a big tree where the birds like to rest in its shade. So too is one’s life. When people come to us when they are in dire need and in helpless conditions, they need people whom they can rely on, people who can accept and understand them.
In times where people need people, we are there for them. Just being there would mean a lot already. Think about it, our mere presence could actually change another person’s life’s course. We have to grow in the love of God, for only through love that we are changed and can effect change in others’ lives.
In order for the seed to grow, care has to be given. A good and fertile soil, water, sunlight would be important aids of its growth. The people (our families, relatives, friends, peers, our Christian communities in the parish and in our neighborhood, our co-workers in the workplaces), the opportunities we encounter, and chances we experience—these all contribute to one’s growth. And we just do not share the shade as shelter for the birds in the air, but we are also expected to bear fruits and share these fruits with others. We don’t bear fruits for ourselves but for others to take and be filled, to enjoy and be enriched, to celebrate and to share again.
One of the retreat sessions I facilitated early this month were the Catholic Educators of Claret College of Isabela de Basilan, at Silsilah Zamboanga. I was so humbled, impressed, and touched by how they gave witness to the faith and how their strong faith has made them who they are today.
Their witnessing and commitment to Catholic Education further enriched and inspired my commitment to the teaching ministry of the Church. These dedicated and simple men and women strive to become more and more dedicated Christian Educators as they share God’s love with others: with their Muslim, Christian and indigenous students in Basilan. Notwithstanding the fears and uncertainties caused by their safety and security that are consequential from their work as teachers, but the commitment to be a full-grown mustard seed where everyone can come and take the shade as their shelter is firm.
They have grown in love, if God live in us, we will never be frighten, nor disturbed, as God alone is enough (Cf. St. Teresa of Avila). To be a Christian, to be a Catholic and to be a Claretian teacher in the Church of Isabela de Basilan is indeed an invitation and a commitment to live day- by day. When we grow in love, then we are able to go and glow in love. Like the Catholic Basilenos, we thank the Lord for giving us Jesus, his only begotten Son, who called us to this life as teachers. We continue telling and re- telling the story of Jesus in stories and parables through our life- witnessing.
Like the Catholic Basileños, we clap our hands with gladness and joy every time we sing the “Gloria,” for God loved us first before we are able to love others. As we grow in the faith, let us be guided in our reflection with the following questions:
Have I grown in my faith? Have I shared my faith with others?
Have I touched the lives of people that led to their conversion?
Do I share the story of Jesus with others through storytelling and through my personal witnessing?
Prayer: Lord, Almighty Father, keep us in your love so that we may grow in your love and share that love with others. Increase in us the sensibilities and sensitivities to respond to your Word—your saving message of love so that we shall grow in faith and that we can also invite others to take the path towards you. Like a mustard seed, it may be small, but we can grow and be great and humble because of your love for us. This we as ask through Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, Amen.