My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
I want to say a special greeting to all our fathers today. I wish you joy, my brothers! Happy Father’s Day to you!
As we all know, the vocation of fatherhood is a vocation to love. To love like God our Father loves us. To give yourself every day and in every way for your children and your wife. Your vocation is very beautiful and it is absolutely crucial in our families and in our society today.
So I urge you to pray often for the help of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that you can learn every day how to love as they loved, and so you can make your families like the Holy Family of Nazareth.
The father’s role is often “hidden” or “behind the scenes.” People don’t see all the little sacrifices you make. And sometimes it’s hard to tell what difference your love is making in your children’s lives. But God sees it all. And when you love, your love changes the lives of the people around you. God always makes our love fruitful — whether we see the results in this lifetime or not.
And in a way, that’s the lesson that today’s readings from sacred Scripture teach us — in these two parables that Jesus tells us today about the “seed.”
The parables of Jesus are always about the Kingdom of God. And when Jesus is talking about the Kingdom, we need to know that he is talking about two things: the mystery and mission of his Church, and also the mystery and mission of our Christian lives.
So today Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed in his fields and watches it grow until harvest time. The man doesn’t know how the seed grows; it’s out of his control. The seed grows in a hidden way. According to its own design.
Jesus is teaching us today — that God is in charge. In our world, and in our lives.
We heard his beautiful words about how corn grows: “First the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.”
That’s how it is with God’s plan. Everything grows according to his designs. His grace is always working in our souls in hidden ways.
First, he plants the seed of his divine life in us when we are baptized. Then he inspires us to want to love like Jesus and to produce good fruits for his Kingdom. Then, in the fullness of our days, we will reach the harvest of love — in the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal life.2
First the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear!
My brothers and sisters, this is the amazing thing about our God! He could do everything for us. He could transform the world, he could make the world just like he wants it — without us doing anything.
But notice something in our parable today. It’s not God — but the man who scatters the seeds.
God wants us to share in his work. He wants us to be “fellow-workers” with him to accomplish his plans of salvation.3
So Jesus sends us out into this world, just like that man in the parable today — to scatter seeds of love, to collaborate in carrying out his plan of love. His plan for the Kingdom, for the Church.
That’s what God expects from each one of us. To scatter seeds. He will do the rest. “It is God who gives the growth!”4
God’s plan of love unfolds in hidden ways through all the little details of our life.
That’s what Jesus is teaching us in his second parable today — the parable of the mustard seed. He is talking about his Church and our place in the Church.
Think about the history of the Church. It started with the 12 apostles and Jesus’ mother waiting in an upper room in Jerusalem. Then at Pentecost, God planted his Holy Spirit in them. He sent them out with courage — to live their faith and tell others about Jesus. Today, that Church that started so small now extends to the ends of the earth and contains millions of men and women from every nation, race and people.
From the little tiny mustard seed that he planted in that upper room, God is still growing a great tree with branches that reach up to heaven, branches big enough for all the birds of the sky.
And that’s why we heard that first reading today from the prophet Ezekiel.
Because Ezekiel is also talking about God’s plan for his Church. In the Old Testament, the tiny shoot that grows into a great tree filled with every kind of bird is a symbol. It’s a symbol of the fulfillment of God’s plan of love — his gathering of all the nations into his one family.5
That’s what Jesus wants with the mission of his Church. To scatter the seeds of his Gospel. To grow this great tree of love, his Church, and to gather all peoples under the shade of its branches.
And you and I, my brothers and sisters, we are a part of that beautiful mission.
St. Paul tells us in today’s second reading that we need to “walk by faith and not by sight.”
So this week, as we’re going about our daily activities, let’s try to have more faith. To trust more in God’s hidden ways! Even if we can’t see him, Jesus is still working and God is still working — behind the scenes and beneath the surface — in our world and in our lives.6
And let’s try to scatter some seeds of God’s love every day this week. Just by the way we live. Living with a happy attitude. Being charitable and generous to others. These are the tiny “mustard seeds” — the little things that God will bless and use to bring about his great harvest of love.
And let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to give us the courage to aspire to please Jesus in everything — so that seeds of his love will grow in our hearts and in our world.
1. Readings (Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B): Ezek. 17:22-24; Ps. 92:2-3, 13-16; 2 Cor. 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34.
2. 1 Pet. 1:23.
3. Catechism, 306.
4. 1 Cor. 3:5-9.
5. Ezek. 17:23; 31:6; Dan. 4:19-22 (17-19 NAB).
6. John 5:17.