Parables of Jesus


Parables of the kingdom

The seed that grows in secret

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The seed that grows in secret

From the Gospel of Mark Chapter 4, Verses 26-29

It said: "The kingdom of God is like a man who throws the seed into the earth; sleep or watch, at night or during the day, the seed sprouts and grows; as, he himself does not know. Since the earth spontaneously produces, first it stem, then the spike, then the full grain in the spike. When the fruit is ready, he immediately puts his hand to the scythe, because the harvest has come".

Parable exegesis

If, in the parable of the sower, Jesus reveals that listening to the Word is not enough, it is necessary that the "seed" (the Word) find the "good field" to grow (the disposition and the will of the soul), now in this parable reveals to us that a miracle takes place underground (in the depth of our soul), in silence and in secret.

The Kingdom is therefore like a seed, which awaits this miracle underground, without being noticed, but becoming a silent witness of the instant in which human and divine action meet. The seed already has the energy to germinate and grow: once planted in a good soil, it grows and produces wheat, without the need for other human intervention. The growth of the seed follows a very precise sequence: first the grass, then the spike, then the maturation of the well-formed grain of wheat.

The farmer has no idea how the seed will grow, because it is the seed that contains the secret of its growth. The "force" that makes the seed grow is present in everything that occurs, from the arrival of the rain to the blowing of the wind, from sowing to the sprouting and growth of the plant, and interacts with the action of events and living beings, remaining however invisible to the human eye.

The seed awaits, accepts, welcomes, like mother earth, this miracle. The small seed is a hidden presence, it is a silent cry, it is the strength in fragility: that seed carries within itself a tree, a dream, a dynamism still unexpressed but already operational from the moment it is seed that is planted. The action of man "who throws the seed into the earth" represents the acknowledgment and acceptance of the soul to the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God: his desire for that Kingdom to be realized becomes the voluntary desire through which the Kingdom itself begins to be realized at the precise moment when the seed is planted on the ground.

The dynamics of "germination" and development of the Kingdom teaches us that its processes are sometimes slow and reside in consciousness; the human impatience to always see "everything at once" prevents us from perceiving that a new shoot is already being born in the secrecy and silence of that land, and to understand the role we can have in its growth.

The Kingdom of God which is that "already and not yet" is that present within us, in humanity; it is that dream of God not yet fulfilled, but inherent in daily personal choices, in our concrete and constant commitment to seeing that dream come true. It is not human action that produces the kingdom of God, but the very power of God hidden in the seed.

The earth makes extraordinary transformations on that seed: the stem, the spike, the wheat ...; before and after there is the action of the farmer, who carefully chooses the land, who plants the seed to bear fruit and "who puts his hand to the scythe, because the harvest has come". God's action is incessant and prodigious, hidden and autonomous: after the effort of sowing, it is only necessary to be patient and trust in him.

It is not an invitation to laziness or idleness, but an inversion of our way of seeing and experiencing reality. There is always something that grows beyond all appearances, which requires trust and a patient and laborious expectation, because it is the work of God. The kingdom of God does not depend on man, and this is confirmed by the fact that Jesus says that the earth by itself bears fruit, because it contains the elements necessary for nourishment. When the fruit is ripe it's harvest time! When the wheat is ripe it is harvest time and the reaper reaps!

This parable speaks to us of the human impotence in making the seed grow: the farmer does not make the seed grow, because he does not even know what happens to that seed that is growing, so long as it remains enclosed in the "mystery" of the earth, or rather in the good field where the only possible force operates: the transforming and creative power of God.