Acorns and mustard seeds

Pencil Preaching for Sunday, October 2, 2022

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“The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint” (Habakkuk 2:3).

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4; Ps 95; 2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-10

For many years my late wife and I took long walks on Saturday mornings to a small coffee shop, a chance to review the week. In the fall we enjoyed the cooler weather in Kansas City. One day she noted the number of acorns on the sidewalks, a heavy harvest following a dearth the previous year that had stressed out the gray squirrels that normally thrive in our neighborhood.

What to do with so many acorns? As we walked along, suddenly a great idea came to me. Why not gather up a pile and make rosaries out of them? A small drill, some cord and the necessary holy hardware and -- voila! -- everyone could be an honorary Franciscan with a big acorn rosary around their middles. But no one would buy it –- too corny (or nutty?) -- I decided. But, still, this was right up there with my other great idea for large two-handle sippy cups, so the sports fans won’t spill their beer at the game.

The actual direction this reverie took was to the tremendous potency of a single seed -- the message of today’s Gospel parable of the mustard seed (Luke 17), and of the other two readings as well. The mustard seed was the smallest seed of all, yet it had great potency. Jesus was, of course, talking about faith. Even the smallest act of faith can set in motion a remarkable process of inspiration leading to action, and from there to results that exceed all expectations.

Everything begins with someone imagining it. This is true of God and creation and of us and the everyday activities we first imagine and then decide to do. If the disciples have even the smallest amount of faith, they can do seemingly impossible things. They should expect that whatever God inspires them to do, God will also give them the resources and energy to do it. The rest of the story is really the long history of the church.

This kind of confidence must be a work in progress. My big ideas rarely go beyond the thought stage, maybe because most of them are not necessarily inspired by God. What God is inspiring are the ones I need to listen to if I want to get started moving mountains and casting mulberry trees into the sea.

Besides, someone already got there first to produce the “acorn rosary” and even the “sippy cup for beer.” Google them to see the competition. In the meantime, I am keeping all my other great ideas to myself.

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