The harvest has come. MARK 4:26–34
By Felix Edinborough
We have been in several stages of lockdown for over a year now and a number of people, including me, decided to try our hands at home gardening. I planted several seeds including corn and pigeon peas.
Once planted, I had to wait for the plants to grow and bear fruit. It was a time of patience, but in the end the harvest was rewarding. It made me happy.
I recall this experience when I read the gospel of this weekend and noted the two parables that Jesus gave us to help us understand what the Kingdom of God is like.
The Kingdom is so overwhelming and unimaginable that it cannot be compared to any one thing that we have experienced, so Jesus employs parabolic teaching to help us appreciate the wonder and glory of Heaven.
To fully grasp the meaning of what Jesus is saying, we need to interpret these parables. They go much deeper than the literal so we have to tax our imagination and, from our life experiences, we have to imagine, even if we have never planted a seed of any size, how it grows from infinitesimally small to ‘the biggest shrub of all’.
I call to mind a nephew of mine whom I knew from the time he was small and now has big children. I still remember him as a tot and some of his older relatives still call him ‘the little baby’.
It is examples like these that Jesus uses, examples that are familiar to us, to bring us to understand the unfamiliar and the all-encompassing welcome of Heaven. There is a place for every one of us, just as the tree with many branches provides shade for ‘the birds of the air’.
Thus, from these parables, we realise that the Kingdom of God may be planted as something very small, a word or saying that we get in the scriptures, in a sermon, from our teachers and parents. If we let that small seed grow, like the disciples of Jesus we can come to inherit the Kingdom of God.
It is important for us to have the fertile soil in our hearts or the seed when planted will not grow. When we are touched by some word or phrase in our Bible reading, or a word of wisdom from a homily or from a trusted friend, we meditate on it and let it grow and eventually we will reap a harvest.
We recognise a good word or phrase, for it will always lead us to Jesus who is exemplified by love. Thus, if our meditation leads us to love, then we know that the harvest will come but if it leads us away from love then we need to uproot it.
The passage ends by telling us that Jesus would not speak to His disciples ‘except in parables’. This means that when we are meditating on the teachings of Jesus, we should not be satisfied with a literal interpretation but look deeper into what we have read, use our experience and imagination, and get to the full meaning for us to ‘reap for the harvest has come’.
Lord, we thank You for the experiences of life that we have had when we felt a seed that was planted in our hearts had grown into the biggest shrub. It was planted by our parents, our teachers, our priests or nuns, our friends.
We thank them for planting this seed.
We ask forgiveness for those times when we refused to accept good seed or advice that was given to us but instead, we took the easy way out and eventually went the wrong way.
We allowed bad seed to grow within us.
We ask You to fill with wisdom our Church leaders, our parents, friends, and teachers, all with whom we come in contact, so that when they plant the seed in our hearts, in time it will grow into the biggest shrub and when the crop is ready, we will start to reap because the harvest has come.
The gospel meditations for June are by Felix Edinborough, a retired secondary school teacher and a parishioner of St Anthony’s, Petit Valley.