Sometimes we think we have to do BIG things in order to accomplish GREAT things. In today's gospel (Mark 4:26-34) Jesus tell us that nothing could be further from the truth. He speaks to the crowd about sowing seed, and how the one who sows is not really aware of how it grows. It seems as if, once the seed is planted in the ground, it grows on its own. Now, we know that is not true. We know that the seed needs water, proper temperature and soil, etc. But none of this would happen if the sower did not sow the seed.
The Lord then goes on to use the mustard seed as an example of the Kingdom of God. The smallest of seeds, it grows into a large bush; large enough, He says, for birds to nest. This is a fascinating example for Jesus to use. Mustard plants were never grown in a garden, rather it grows wild. Indeed, it is considered a weed, and people would never have wanted it to be present in their garden, since it would take over very quickly. But people were fascinated with the flavor, and used it in cooking. And birds would rarely nest in a mustard bush, so Jesus was being truly extravagant in His analogy.
So what can we take from this Gospel for our own lives today? How can I apply it to what I do? Considering all we know about the mustard seed, and that Jesus never used examples that did not have a profound meaning, I used this parable to meditate on the importance of small things - words, actions - in spreading the Good News. Each day I encounter people in many different situations. I can never be sure how a word or gesture will impact their lives. One thing I do know is that what I say and do matters. If I am able to speak a kind word to one person, they may, in turn, speak more kindly to someone else. If I tell someone how I was blessed in a particular situation, they may be more open to seeing blessings in their own life. If I share the fact that I went to Mass last Sunday with a co-worker, they may rethink their own practice of faith. If I do a kindness for a stranger and tell them that I did it because God loves them, they may someday come to believe in Him.
All of these in and of themselves are not very big. But they can make a big difference. We cannot sit back and think that it is the "job" of those who work for the Church to spread the faith so we do not have to worry. Faith has always been spread from one person to another, and rarely in the context of church. Each one of us must try and sew the mustard seed of faith, whenever and wherever we can. And if we do these small things each day, God will accomplish great things through us.