Mark 4:24 – 34
2 Corinthians 12:20–13:2
The Lord gave the following description of the Kingdom of Heaven: “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.”
In this fragment, He speaks about the sacramental relationship between the human soul and the seed of the Word of God. Sometimes, we may not fully comprehend the things that we may hear, but they will be like seeds planted in our souls that will sprout and grow. I know of a man who became a believer quite late in his life, but he always remembered how his grandmother was telling him when he was a young boy of six about Saint Joseph, whose brothers had sold him into slavery out of envy and how his life changed afterwards. There were many other things that he had heard and read and eventually forgotten, but he never forgot his grandmother’s story about Saint Joseph. This is because the soul is God’s creation; it exists to seek Truth, and embraces and harbours every word of the Truth. Time passes – and a new sprout grows, seemingly out of nowhere; the soul is hungry for truth; it is eager to know how to act righteously, how to live a proper life, what it can and cannot do.
From some people who wish to live by the truth but cannot yet do so we might hear questions that hide the fear that they might be asked to do something beyond their powers. They might ask, “Will I still be able to watch television? To dress smart? To work in a particular job?” It is very hard to hear these questions from people and even harder to answer them, as they approach Christianity from the wrong end. The Christian faith is not some prison cell where one is deprived of all things that they value or have become used to once they step through its door.
A seed of the Kingdom of Heaven has been planted in the human soul, and it has sprouted. This is not the time for making hasty decisions or for transforming course of one’s life. There is no expectation to abandon all things from the past immediately and irreversibly. Apostle Paul’s warnings are stark and definite only with regard to obvious sin. “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder,” says the Apostle. To those referred to in these lines, the Apostle gives this warning: “On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others”. As for all the other human concerns, Apostle Paul said, “I have the right to do anything — but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything—but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
The most important thing is that we do not trample on the new sprout; just read the Scripture, and do the prayer rule at least in part, but always on a daily basis. Come to church, and spend just two hours in a week (out of 168) on Church worship and prayer. In all other matters of the world, always ask yourself if all that you are doing is beneficial, and if you have been mastered by anything. Leave the rest to the Lord, Who will eventually produce the the head and the full kernel in the head. A taste of thus fruit will in time let you feel the bitterness of the other fruits, and the futility of many of your actions. Eventually, you will lose the taste for things you once enjoyed and abandon the habits without which you used to find your life difficult to imagine. Once the seed has harboured the seed, and been penetrated by the roots of the plant that grew from it, the soul will itself be drawn towards the truth and the goodness. One will be surprised to see how it grows and becomes “the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
The Lord also says, “As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” To us, all death is arbitrary, unjust and cruel. In truth, it is the providence of God. As He has said, the sickle is put to the grain as soon as it is ripe, before it becomes overripe and falls to the ground. Let us trust, then, in the power of the grain of the Kingdom of God that has been planted in our souls. Even where we lack the determination to step on the narrow path of our salvation, let is at least be prepared to let the Lord take us by our hand and lead us along it, from the darkness into the light. To a farmer, the harvest is a long-awaited feast. For the Lord puts its sickle to the grain at exactly the right time – not a moment earlier, and not a moment later.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds