"With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."
For most, Christ's parable of the mustard seed has been about small things which become big things. However, I'd like to focus on the idea of insignificance. Especially to a non-farmer like me, a single mustard seed can look like a dry grain or piece of dirt. It can seem unimportant, easily tossed aside.
In Mark's gospel, this parable comes amidst other lessons about growth. First Jesus tells his famous story about the sower, and we learn that growth isn't as much about the type or even quality of the seed as it is about the ground on which it falls. Then he talks about the growth of the seed itself, and we see that most of it happens without the sower having anything to do with it. The farmer only brings in ripe grain when harvest times comes.
And here, we can see that the small seed becomes a large tree, certainly large in comparison to its initial size, and also in comparison to what other seeds in the garden become. But what intrigues me is what the seed becomes in importance.
The mustard seed, we are told, eventually becomes a place where "the birds of the air can make nests in its shade." As far as we know, the birds don't thank the plant and the plant doesn't require it. As far as we know, the plant does not feel pride in its work or that it is not enough. It is what God made it to be.
I must open myself to the Holy Spirit to be what I am, not some picture of myself that is not within me or part of the design of my nature. I must, to be at peace in myself and with the One who made me, be ready to grow large branches and serve where I have been planted.
Great Gardener and Tiller of the land in my heart, make the soil of my soul ready for seed. Make me, so often insignificant and tiny of love, something your children can live and grow in. In the Holy Name of Jesus, Amen.