Farmers are patient people who plant their crops and then confidently wait for the soil and the seed to produce a bountiful harvest. What begins as tiny seeds tucked in the earth slowly grow and bloom even though we don’t know exactly how that works? As if by magic, baron fields yield growth and produce rich harvests. Each spring with supreme faith, farmers begin the process over again confidant that another harvest is only weeks away.
It is that same confidence that Jesus promised the growth of the kingdom as he preached to the people of his time and place. “The kingdom of God…is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth…[but] it springs up and becomes the largest of plants.” That’s the confidence and faith we need to do our part in building the kingdom. Each of us has a definite contribution to make, and every person is absolutely necessary for the growth of the kingdom. We know that the kingdom will grow and develop. In spite of all our faults and foibles, it belongs to, originates in, and is ever attended by God.
Jesus’ strategy to establish the kingdom is simple: “Seek the kingdom of God first, then everything else will find its proper place.” Yes, simple enough in theory, but never easy to put into practice. As one scripture scholar has stated: “The kingdom of this world has already organized itself along natural lines, and no amount of fiddling with the power structure will bring real change. Saviors are always outsides.”
Jesus, our Savior, allied himself with the outsiders because he knew that in secular kingdoms there are always people at the bottom, excluded and forgotten. He became a “mobile free clinic,” warning the rich not to build bigger barns until everyone is fed. He said the Sabbath was made for peasants whose backbreaking labor killed them at an early age, and that the leisure class dare not “lounge with God” until they lift the burden from their neighbors.
Jesus knew it is always dangerous to transfer the values of God’s kingdom into the world. That was his task, and now it is ours, dangerous or not. Like the confident farmer, we continue to plant and wait for the harvest. Take a clue from Pope Saint John XXIII who knew that his smallness and nothingness always kept him in good company, yet he spent many sleepless nights worrying about the outcome of the Council. [Vatican II] Finally after much effort he was able to pray: “Listen Lord, this church is yours, not mine. I’m going to sleep.”
The reality is, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, the marginal, the outcast, and the rejected must be included in God’s kingdom. Not because they are better, and not because they deserve it, but because that is what God wants. The world as it is now and the world as God desires it for us are miles apart. We spend a lifetime working to bring both worlds closer together. The work is daunting and the pace is slow. Yet we take solace in the paraphrased words from the prophet Micah: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Walk humbly now. Do justice now. Love mercy now.” We are not expected to complete the work, but neither are we free to abandon it.
----Deacon Wilson Shierk