Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
The seed of our faith
Points to note
The passage comprises two parts. The first is two verses relating to faith. The second is a short parable on the servant. There is a common thread linking these two seemingly unconnected passages. The link may however, be a little too difficult to grasp. Unless it is well prepared, it is recommended that the session be limited to the verses on faith.
Acclamation before the Gospel
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening;
you have the message of eternal life.
Explain how tiny a mustard seed is. If possible get some and allow each child to hold one in his or her palm while the reading is read. Do not let them look at the seed when the the reading is read if you want the reading to be heard but you may direct them to the mustard seed for a moment when you reach the verse. Their imagination should be allowed to run riot. If you give out mustard seeds, try to get them back from the children as it is difficult to vacuum them up from the carpet.
The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Luke
All: Glory to you O Lord
(Lk 17: 5-10)
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If your faith is the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
“If a master has a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would he say to him when the servant returned from the fields, ‘Come and have your meal immediately?’ Would he not be more likely to say, ‘Get my supper laid; and make yourself tidy and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink yourself afterwards’? Should he be ungrateful to the servant for doing what he was told? Similarly with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say ‘We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.’”
This is the Gospel of the Lord
Take a look at the mustard seed. How big or small is it? How much bigger is the tree that it will grow into!
Describe the contrast in size between the seeds and the eventual tree. Allow time for it to sink in. Discuss what is needed for the seed to grow into the tree. Emphasise the tender loving care, perhaps the fencing around the young sprout, etc.
Jesus likened our faith to the mustard seed. When were we given this little seed that we call our faith? At our baptism. Jesus promised that our faith will grow. What will be needed for it to grow? Love; learning about God’s word and the Church; prayers; tender loving care from those who care for us and teach us.
In the Old Testament, the gardener who tenders the garden is likened to God. In much the same way, we can extend this analogy to God being the gardener; we being the seed; the garden being the Church; the fertiliser being the faith education we get; and the water being love. We can extend the analogy further in that the water that plants get come directly from the sky or is watered with a watering can. In the same way, we get love directly from God and indirectly from our family and friends whom God asked to carry the love to us.
When seeds grow into trees, the trees could be used for many different uses. When the seed of our faith grows into a giant grown-up tree of faith, what could our faith be used for? Discuss acts of faith. You may wish to discuss the different uses of the trees before launching into the question proper.
You can ask the children what kind of tree do they want to be? Do they want to be a big leafy tree: so that they can protect people who are weak? Do they want to be a fruit tree: so that they can nourish people who are more needy? Do they want to be a pretty flowering tree: so that people can be inspired to see them witnessing in their beautiful faith life?
Jesus promised that if our faith was as small as the mustard seed, we could do miraculous things. So let us remember to guard this fragile seed of faith of ours, as it will lead us to miracles.