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Mustard Seed: Last Sunday's Sermon

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The Gospel
Mark 4:26-34


Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.


The Sermon

The Mustard Seed

I always puzzle over the mustard seed parable. Jesus says the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed which when sown upon the ground is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in it's shade.”

So lets take this analogy and try and untangle it. I think Jesus is saying that the kingdom of God starts out very small, even tiny. If allowed to grow this kingdom will become large beyond your wildest dreams. Even bigger than Amazon or Walmart. It will provide a home for birds like you and me. It will protect us from the troubles that come into our lives.

This Kingdom of God is not something we have to wait for. The kingdom is right here, right now. In Luke Ch. 17. Jesus is asked by some Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come and he said, “The Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. No one will say, 'look, here it is, or there it is, because the kingdom of God is within you.”

Some of you may be thinking “ I am not feeling any kingdom yet.” I get that. Let me offer up my own analogy. Sometimes I can't find some things that I am needing in our garage. I know it is there, I just can't remember where I put it. My system is to go to the usual places where it might be and just keep sorting and removing stuff that is getting in the way of my search. Usually I have that aha! Moment where I find what I have been searching for.

Many of us who are searching for the kingdom have a garage full of stuff in our minds and hearts that may be getting in the way of finding the Kingdom of God that is within us. I encourage you to look inside of yourself. Set aside the things that may be in the way of your search. Maybe you should throw out some items that are just taking up space. When you have uncluttered your life you will find that God and his kingdom have been there all along waiting for you.

Blessings to you,
Fr. Fred

Immigrants

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Normally on Wednesday I post last Sunday's sermon along with the scripture readings.  Not today.  The leadership in the United States has done something that brings tears to my eyes.  We are separating immigrant children from their parents and by doing so harming those children emotionally.   The psychological scars will be long lasting and the stain of sin will be visited on those who committed what I can only think of as a crime against humanity.  In whatever way possible I encourage you to voice loudly your disgust with these actions by our nation's leaders who are either the instigators of this cruel policy of separation or are quietly allowing it to happen.

Sincerely,
Fr. Fred Steinbach

Who Is My Family?: Last Sunday's Sermon

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The Gospel
Mark 3:20-35


The crowd came together again, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”


The Sermon


Jesus was upsetting the apple cart and he was irritating the Jewish leaders and even his family. The Jewish leaders were even saying Jesus was possessed by the devil. What?? How did they come to this conclusion?

Lets look back at what has taken place before this event we read about today. In chapter two of Mark Jesus is at home in Capernaum and there is a crowd around the house. There is a paralyzed man who wants to be healed and his friends lower the man through the roof into the room where Jesus is staying. What is the first thing you would expect Jesus would do? He would heal the man, right? But that isn't what he does. He says to the man, “Your sins are forgiven.” That upset the scribes because forgiving sins is above Jesus' pay grade, or so they believe. Jesus does physically heal the paralytic but he makes it very clear that forgiving someones sins is a much bigger deal than curing a physical ailment.

Next in Mark, Jesus has dinner with Levi the tax collector. Now Levi is not liked by the Jewish establishment because tax collectors were considered in league with the Roman authorities. So, here is Jesus sitting down to dinner with Levi and Levi's friends also known as other sinners. Jesus is chastised again for mixing with the wrong kind of folk. Jesus' reply is I came here to save souls and these souls desperately need saving.

Next, as we read last Sunday, Jesus is allowing his disciples to do work on the Sabbath because they need to eat. He also heals a man on the Sabbath. When he is criticized for this he tells the Pharisees that the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. People have to eat and healing can take place on the Sabbath.

Everything Jesus does in these events is logical and reasonable and breaks the rules of the Judaic law.
Therefore he must be possessed or crazy at the least.

No! Jesus was bringing a breath of fresh air to the world. He was showing compassion to those around him and reaching out to those living on the edge of society. Jesus was teaching us today by example. We are one world, one family and whatever we do for the least of our brethren we have done for him.