In the gospel today (Mark 4.26-34) the farmer sows the seed, but night and day, in a way that he cannot explain, growth takes place, at first hidden in the soil, then pushing up into the light, day after day. At one level we can explain everything. Farming these days has become a very scientific business agriculture being big business. Scientists can even manipulate the genes of rice or wheat. Everything is known. Or is it? We are talking, after all, about life. Within the seed there is life. There is the potential to germinate. Who set life in motion? Where did this mysterious renewing ability come from? We are back to God the creator, with the whole of creation coming from the divine will. All around us the natural world sings to its creator, who brought life and brings it still.
The parable begins with human initiative. God may be the Creator, but he has made us stewards of this world. He expects us to be people of initiative. We are to be creators of new possibilities, following the example of God. But at the same time we are not Lords of life. Having begun new initiatives, having done what we can, big or small, we have to trust in God. Whether something will succeed, who knows? We do what we can, but we also place what we do in the hands of God, who brings life, in ways we cannot fully explain but recognise in its fruits.
Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God. This is a time, a state of life, in which God’s love can be more clearly seen because the world will be in harmony with God’s will. It will be the upside-down world of the Magnificat, in which the hungry are fed, the humble are lifted up, and the self-important people suddenly find that they are no longer celebrities. All this inspired through our relationship with God the Father who made us and reached out to us in Christ. At one level, to do anything in the hope that it will be part of the Kingdom of God is a daunting prospect. Who am I, each of us might say, to bring about the Kingdom? Yet it is an initiative in which each of us can play a part. A kind word to someone suffering rejection – in the playground at school or at work. A discreet action in support of someone struggling because of poverty or disability. Joining with others in a campaign for a good cause, perhaps speaking for others who might not be heard in the noise of our world. A time of prayer, sharing perhaps with friends, bringing hearts and minds to God. And remember that it is not always doing things for other people. Sometimes the Kingdom is built by those who are the poor, or the humble, and who seize the initiative.
All over the world this kind of thing happens all the time. Often unnoticed, because it rarely grabs the headlines, this creates a climate in which many can thrive. It brings life. It is spiritual oxygen in which many can breathe. Or, to use the image that Jesus himself gives us, it is a vast shrub, in which many can shelter. It is the kingdom.