Encouragement and Hope

Part of the reason we get discouraged is that we are victims of bigness. Cities compete with each other to claim the greatest growth and the fanciest entertainments. Corporations are proud when their company occupies the tallest building in the city. Every day we read in our newspapers about famous people doing famous things. We have mega-malls, mega-churches, and mega-storms. In contrast, Jesus spoke of the importance of small things: a mustard seed, a cup of cold water, a widow's mite, a kindness done to the least of people.

Jesus knows what we too often forget: the size of the bush and the healthy spread of the branches depend on the vitality of the seed. The parable of the mustard seed is a word of encouragement for us. Things might not be what you and I want them to be, but there is still hope. God works in mysterious ways. Growth often starts out small like a mustard seed and then blossoms into something huge. We are called to do something, we are not called to do everything.

The process of growth of the kingdom of God works in the Christian life. We practice daily prayer and Bible reading. We find ways to be of service to others. We pledge money and time to the Church and charitable purposes. We join the people of God at the altar regularly. These are some of the seeds that God uses to mold and shape our lives in love, peace and hope. But the shaping happens at God's own pace and as we are willing and able to cooperate with him.

Further, in our own time, we could cite some seeds and occasions: A mother's prayer at the dining table, a father's encouragement, a little girl's prayer in a restaurant, attending the church as a family, a conversation with a colleague about Sunday church, inviting a neighbor to church, giving a phone call to a grandchild on Saturday reminding about Sunday Mass. There could be hundred ways to plant the seeds. Let's plant the seeds of the Kingdom and sleep well. God will bring in a harvest way, way beyond anybody's guess.

A third grader taught the teacher an important truth: The teacher asked, "How many great people were born in our city?" "None," replied the child. "There were no great people born; they were born babies who became great people."

Great things will happen if we plant the seeds; it will slowly and steadily grow in a mysterious way; God does it. This is the encouragement and hope we need to remember this week.


In the Service of the Lord,
   Father Thainese Alphonse



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St. Bernadette Catholic Church