“Commenting on the Church’s evangelizing efforts, Pope Benedict XVI warned that Catholics today must resist what he calls ‘the temptation of impatience,’ that is, the temptation to insist on ‘immediately finding great success’ and ‘large numbers.’ He says that immediate, massive growth is not God’s way. ‘For the Kingdom of God as well as for evangelization, the instrument and vehicle of the Kingdom of God, the parable of the grain of mustard seed, is always valid.’ He goes on to say the new phase of the Church’s evangelizing mission to the secular world will not be ‘immediately attracting the large masses that have distanced themselves from the Church by using new and more refined methods.’ Rather, it will mean ‘to dare, once again and with the humility of the small grain, to leave up to God the when and how it will grow.’”
I’ve had a handful of conversations lately about our faith formation programs at St. Michael: what we’ve done differently this year, what’s working and what’s not, and what more I wish we’d done. I am tempted to sudden actions and grand gestures at times, and midway through the faith formation year is no exception: I am tempted to blow up what we’re doing in our parish and start over. So many people need to know that God is real, that Christ is present in the church…and I’m stewing over videos, Powerpoints, and the Catechism.
Then a good friend shares this with me, from something he is reading these days. He knows where my head has been lately, and thinks this might be helpful. He’s right.
The quotes from Pope Benedict are from “The New Evangelization: Building a Civilization of Love,” his address to catechists and religion teachers, Jubilee of Catechists, December 12, 2000.
We talk often of planting seeds in others, not knowing where, when, or whether they will germinate. But Pope Benedict calls me to the humility of the small grain.
What does that mean?
A seed perseveres through inclement conditions. It bides its time, then when the time and place are right, it germinates: puts roots down and sends visible growth up.
So far so good, I think.
As conditions are favorable, it continues to grow, and God willing, to put forth fruit. The plant itself has little impact on how much fruit results year to year or what becomes of the fruit once it ripens and drops. But it continues to produce, year after year, as long as it is able.
The seed is me? That’s a thought I hadn’t thought before…