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He Knows Not How

There are over 7 billion people living on earth right now, which fact may lead you to wonder if you – little, tiny you – really matter in the grand scheme of things. If you’re like me (you know, human) then it usually feels like you don’t. The world is a mess and you don’t see how you can make it any better, you often feel like you don’t make any difference at all.

Last weekend, in the Scripture passages for June 17, 2018, the roughly 1 billion Catholics in the world (including me) were given a chance to wake up to reality and offered a glimpse of our true worth.


In the Gospel reading from St. Mark’s account of Jesus Christ’s life and teachings, Christ tries to explain the kingdom of God to the crowds gathered to hear him. Through the wisdom of seeds, he illustrated to the crowd how something great and flourishing can begin as something tiny and easy to lose. Although a mustard seed “is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth,”[1] it springs up from the ground and becomes the largest of plants. A person can scatter seeds in the dirt and, without doing anything to them, they can grow and yield a harvest of fruit. This is fact, this is how the earth works, and, even when we understand the scientific principles involved, it is still a marvelous thing.

“Of its own accord the land yields fruit,” for human beings are not meant to control and manipulate everything, to powerfully wrest sustenance and life from barren rock. Life is created by God and willed by God to live. Human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, are meant to recognize and receive God’s work, to participate in God’s will by cooperating with the living growth and spread of the fruitful goodness of life. Although the world is a mess, our loving and responsible God is at work – in this we have faith – so that no tiny seed is lost.

seed, dirt, seedling, growth, sower

We cannot always see the goodness of life, especially in the midst of suffering and human cruelty. However, St. Paul reminded us on Sunday (like he first did the Corinthians) that, as children of God, we walk by faith, and not by sight. We are courageous in this world because we are able to live in the midst of suffering and cruelty knowing that God sees all, knows all, and loves all. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.”[2] Loving and trusting God, we remember that there is more than earthly life growing and living here, where we live now – there is also eternal life, the life of the kingdom of God. And the tiniest acts of goodness, kindness, and holiness are the seeds of forgiveness, healing, and everlasting joy being sown for that endless glory.

The door that you hold open for a mother holding her baby while leading her small child; the mail that you take from your elderly neighbor’s box and bring into his house for him; the words of patient kindness that you speak to an irritated clerk, coworker, or family member – the smile that I gave to a prisoner, the brushing of my teeth by my dad – these are among the countless seeds of eternal bliss.

We know not how.

Glory, garden, harvest, golden

Being a believing Christian, who faithfully follows religious teachings, will not give you the obvious comprehension of how this happens or reveal to you the proof that your tiny little life makes a difference in this great big world. We don’t know what effects our small acts of love will have on others – we can’t know the exact effects or whether they were well received in order to multiply the growth. All that we can know, here and now, is that these little seeds of goodness will have effect.

And so, we walk through our little lives in faith, among the thorns and ledges, weeds and dirt, broadcasting (and near casting) the tiniest seeds of God’s love, courageous in the knowledge that Paradise is growing within, around, and beyond us. We know not how.

© 2018 Christina Chase

Photo 1 by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

Photo 2 by paul mocan on Unsplash

Photo 3 by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

[1] Mark 4:31

[2] Romans 8:28

Christina Chase View All

Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.

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