A baby is coming, a whole universe is coming. Yes, two weeks ago, a new baby has come to us. As we know, a new baby, Ugo and Vivian’s son was born. A baby has come, a whole universe has come to us. It is not just a baby. It is a universe, it is a world. It is a new universe, a new world which has come to mom and dad, and to us. Mom and dad see in a baby a new world and experience a new universe, and dream something new that the baby will bring to mom and dad and the family. Of course, the baby already has brought a new world to them. But the baby will bring more and more, greater and greater. The baby is a hope and future, a new universe and new world. A baby is not just a baby, but a whole universe.
The Gospel of today lets us to turn our eyes from Jerusalem temple decorated with beautiful stones and gifts to a baby lying in a manger, and from the Roman Emperor who claims to be a divine son to a man of Nazareth dying on a cross. And challenging the people who believe they can manipulate or hasten the coming of the kingdom of God, and the world of disappointment and despair that the kingdom of God has not come, and the Gospel has not changed anything, it urges us to see a tiny seed.
The Gospel of today encourages us to see in a seed a new tree, a new temple, a new world, a new kingdom, and a new king which has come already. It is saying about the seed. It is not saying about just a seed. It is about the kingdom of God. About God, about our Lord, about His kingdom. And about us, the people of God’s kingdom.
The Gospel of Mark begins, saying, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” From this first line Mark invites us to God’s secret which is coming to be revealed to us. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Mark does not say it is just a small beginning of a story. He says about the Kingdom of God, the reign of God which has begun with a tiny seed, but will become the biggest of all plants, putting out such large branches that birds come and make their nests in its shade, and bearing every kind of fruit that every nation and creature may share come in the midst of us.
Jesus was beginning God’s kingdom-work in a small village, in Galilee, with few people. He was planting the seed of Kingdom into the few people. Yes, it was a small seed indeed, and it was invisible, rejected, humiliated and ignored by lot of people in his time. It seemed nothing. It looked nothing. No fruits, no root, no branches.
But we know, it was a powerful seed being scattered and planted by God.
Plowing, planting, watering in trust and in patience, the farmer dreams a grown tree stretching out its branches, showing its beautiful green leaves, bearing colorful fruits, giving shadow, giving home for every birds and animals, even we dream that all kind of fishes gather together around the tree and swim in the river flowing from the tree. Some people would say, “There is nothing in the field! The birds are flying around over the field, searching for branches to make their nests. The wild animals are walking around in the field, looking for something to eat. Nothing in the field. No leaves, no branches, no fruits.” The seed seems dead already. Nothing. And they would say, “No! Nothing. The kingdom of God has not come yet here. No! It is just a dry seed. That’s it.”
It seems dead. They do not know what is happening underground. And, the farmer would think, “Do I need to water tomorow just as yesterday and today?” However, something is happening underground. The farmer does not know it. But, tomorrow, the farmer would water, weed, and fertilize. And sleep and rise night and day. Dream, and keep doing his works, , in patience, in trust, in hope.
Every mom and dad dream the moment when their new born baby, all of a sudden, stops crying and says, “Dad, sorry about that. And thank you for giving me hug. Mom, yes, I know you are so tired because of me. But, I really appreciate you giving me milk and cookies.” No. It will never happen. We know, it takes time. But we know, it will happen. But it takes time. Probably, the baby might be saying in crying that, “Dad, be patient. Mom don’t push me please. Just love me, take care of me, hug me, love me more. I am growing, I know. You don’t know. But God knows and I know.”
The kingdom of God does not come all of a sudden. The kingdom of God does not come as a fully grown tree. The kingdom of God has been planted and scattered in us, among us, through us. The seed of the kingdom is not just a dry seed thrown away on the ground.
The seed would sprout and grow. However, the farmer does not know how it happens. Jesus is the seed of the kingdom of God. In him, we can see what the kingdom looks like, what the kingdom is. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come not as a grown king, a grown tree, that people had expected to come. He has come as a baby, a seed, which needs to keep being watered, nourished, protected, cared. Jesus himself is the seed to die and then to rise. The disciples of Jesus and the world did not know then how powerful the seed was. They did not understand how a seed became the beginning of the good news. They could not figure out what Jesus is all about, what the kingdom of God looks like. They could not imagine what it would happen.
Prophet Daniel said, “While I was asleep, I had a vision of a huge tree in the middle of the earth. It grew bigger and bigger until it reached the sky and could be seen by everyone in the world. Its leaves were beautiful, and it was loaded down with fruit – enough for the whole world to eat. Wild animals rested in its shade, birds built nests in its branches, and every kind of living being ate its fruit” (Daniel 4:10-12).
It is not just a vision, a dream. It is a divine reality, the kingdom of God that was already planted, and has grown, and stretched out its branches over the field, and been loaded down with fruits. Jesus, the seed of the kingdom of God, planted and died in the ground, and was raised to become bread and wine to feed his people. The powerful seed becomes a divine food that we drink and eat at the eucharistic table. It waters us and nourishes us and feeds us, and it transforms us into the seeds of the kingdom of God to die, then to rise in the field, and to grow, to stretch out its branches to give shade for our neighbors, and bear fruits to love one another.
The oldest and most reliable manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark ends without recording appearances of the risen Jesus. Instead, they end, saying, “After the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome . . . entered the tomb, where they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white rove – and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said, “I know you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is not here – he has been raised! Look, here is the place where he was place. Now go and give this message to his disciples, including Peter: ‘He is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So, they went out and ran from the tomb, distressed and terrified. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid” (Mark 16:1-8).
But, it is not the end of the story, we know. It is not the end of the Gospel. Yes, this is the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ. This is the beginning of God’s kingdom, coming, being planted, and grown. which has come, planted, and grown. And now Jesus, the seed of the kingdom of God, become branches for his disciples to make their nests within its shade, and become fruits for them to eat. And Jesus invites them, the church, and us to become his branches that all our neighbors and all the nation can make their nests within his shade of love and justice, and to become his fruits that we all can eat together in its shade.
The apostle Paul said in his letter to Corinthians, “We are simply God’s servants, by who you were led to believe. Each one of us does the work which the Lord gave him to do: I planted the seed, (my fellow worker) Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow. The one who plants and the one who waters really do not matter. It is God who matters, because he makes the plant grow” (1Cor. 3:5-7).
We, the servants of divine farmer, carefully, faithfully, fervently, plant, water, in trust and patience. But, the kingdom of God is not a human work, but a God’s work. The kingdom of God cannot be manipulated or controlled by human being. It is God’s work. Thanks God inviting us to his kingdom-work. Amen.