29Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!
30-32“How can we picture God’s kingdom? What kind of story can we use? It’s like a pine nut. When it lands on the ground it is quite small as seeds go, yet once it is planted it grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches. Eagles nest in it.”
33-34With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.
As I read this week’s gospel I can’t help but think about my own father. He does fancy himself a gardener and his potato garden is dear to him. In fact my mother complains sometimes that he spends more time with his potatoes than he does with her. He spends hours planting, weeding, watering and caring for his garden. The results of his care can be seen in the harvest of potatoes that he gets each autumn, which he in turn shares with neighbours, family, friends and most importantly me. Did I mention I love potatoes?
Perhaps this gospel is fitting for all fathers on Father’s Day. In the gospel reading Jesus tells a parable, a story, about the nature of the Kingdom of God. It’s like a man who plants seeds, but the miraculous growth is beyond even the farmer’s efforts and expectations. There is something mysterious about its growth. Isn’t this like parenting? We plant seeds and when we see growth and maturity in our children, we are in awe. How many times have I said to my wife when we are pleasantly surprised by something our children say or do: where did we go right?
In Jesus’ second story about the kingdom, he tells of a tiny seed growing into a great plant or tree. It grows so much that birds can find shelter in its shade. Isn’t the influence of our fathers like this? They plant so many good things in our lives that grow and become a blessing to others. My father planted the seeds of honesty, hard work and respect for others. I hope that he sees fruit in my life now that I am a father too. I too try to plant good seeds in my children’s lives. My wife and I do our best to plant faith, love, kindness and compassion. Even now I see those seeds starting to bud in their lives. Much more growth still needs to happen, but what I see brings great joy to my life.
Of course we know that the good things we see in our father’s are only shadows of what we see in God our Father. And no doubt some people struggle with positive images of fathers, whether human or divine. But hopefully we can all point to signs of growth and unexpected harvests of the Kingdom of God in our own lives. Good seeds that have been planted and sustained by the Holy Spirit.