What’s in a mustard seed? Jesus talks a lot about mustard seeds, and this week we get Ezekiel in on the action. Palm trees, cedar trees, mustard trees! Are we like these seeds? Can God create from us who we truly are supposed to be, and what we are truly supposed to do, as unique, unrepeatable individuals in this specific place and time? Paul encourages us this week to be courageous and aspire to please God – like these great trees! Even the Alleluia gets in on the seeds: “The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower. All who come to him will live forever!” Is our faith open enough to let Him bloom in us the great comfort and strength, conviction and growth for others as He build his kingdom?
Break out the baby pictures! The activity this week is fun, and it starts with looking at a mustard seed and seeing the size of the tree it grows into (HINT: That’s it below!)
Seeds, Fruits, and Branches
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Catechesis At Home – Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B
Seeds, Fruit, and Branches
DISCUSSION – Why does Jesus talk about a mustard seed?
This week Jesus uses the parable of the mustard seed to illustrate how we should live. Most of us are familiar with the image of the smallest seed becoming one of the largest plants as a symbol of faith. Today I offer you a slightly different twist. When we read the first reading from Ezekiel and the Gospel reading together, we see a connection between them and the connection is Christ Himself.
Ezekiel relates God’s conversation with him, telling how He will take a lowly tree (actually a piece of a tree) and put it on a lofty mountain from which it will grow into a mighty tree that bears fruit and shelters all the birds. (Ez. 17:22-24) In the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the mustard seed. In both stories we find a small or lowly thing becoming a tree in which creatures find shelter.
Remember that Jesus was born in a lowly manger, grew up in obscurity, and as an adult was crucified – lifted high for all to see on a tree on Mt. Calvary. The fruit He bore from that act of ultimate self-sacrifice is still becoming a reality. We find ourselves in the shelter of His Church and the fruit of grace we receive in the Sacraments nourishes us to do the work He has prepared for us. We are seeds or pieces of trees that God takes and plants and nurtures in order to continue to stretch His saving hand forth to others. We are the fruit, the branches, for others to find shelter. We are His body, we are the Church.
ACTIVITY – Are we like mustard seeds? Who knows?
Most likely the mustard tree Jesus was talking about was a species of tree whose seed is about 2 mm in diameter and the tree grows to be around 3 meters (8-10 ft) tall. This is certainly not the smallest seed in the world, nor is it the largest plant in the world, but Jesus liked to use hyperboles – exaggerations – in his parables. These made the listener perk up his or her ears and sometimes he was telling jokes! The point here is that it’s a very small seed and it grows into a large plant that bears fruit birds like to eat and can provide places for them to build nests and roost.
Get some seeds – even if they are seeds from fruits and vegetables in your kitchen, this will work. Ideally, there are different kinds of seeds. Each person in your family should have a seed. (For small children, you may have to hold it for them, so they do not eat it!) Look carefully at the seed – what can you know about the plant it will grow into just by looking at the seed? Probably not much, unless you are a botanist or a farmer. Now look at pictures of yourselves as babies. What can you tell from a baby what he or she will grow up and do? Think about how even parents do not have a clue what their children will grow up to do! But, guess who DOES know? God. He knows because He created us. And if we cooperate with Him, we can grow into amazing humans who can become great branches or fruit in the Church that is our tree. Ask yourself, what does God want me to do with my faith? What does God what me to do as part of Christ’s body? What can I do to reach out to others and encourage, evangelize, and enlighten them to know Jesus more? What can I do to grow in relationship with Jesus?
Other Mustard Seed-related items of interest on our site:
Are you a mustard seed? Is your faith and courage? What can you do to help bring people to the Kingdom?
by Beth Cowles, MACE
HOO™ Co-Founder and Director of Faith Formation | Lead Catechist