11th Sunday in Ordinary Time | Year B

Posted on junio 14, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

We get the word automatic from the Greek mentioned in our Gospel from Mark 4:28, “Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear;” it’s done by God Himself; it’s automatic.

It reminds me of “The Garden,” by Arnold Lobel: Toad loves Frog’s garden so much that he decides to grow a garden for himself but Toad gets impatient and yells, “Now seeds! START GROWING!” The story offers a friendly reminder of how lacking patience can fill our lives with unnecessary anger and frustration. But did Toad really need to work as hard as he did, or would the garden have grown anyway?1

If a Dad just shows up at home and is reasonably patient with his family, God will bless the family automatically because Dad is there.

e.g. In 2021, students at Southwood High in Louisiana, had serious gang problems. The police were being called to the school each day and some students were arrested. As the dad of an 11th grader, Michael La’Fitte did not like what he was seeing. He knew he had to take action. So he spoke with some other involved dads. They met with the High School Principal and she welcomed their help. And that’s what started Dads on Duty!

40 dads spend time at the school.They talk to kids. They make bad dad jokes. They walk the hallways. Tell students to get to class. They don’t replace security guards;, and in an age where many students do not have a male figure at home, they have changed the atmosphere of the entire school. People say that they interact with all the kids like they are their own father. They take an interest in their home lives, talk about being an entrepreneur; they sponsor essay contests, and they make sure that every kid has someone safe they can talk to.

Dad’s on Duty shows us that a father, head of the household, as Saint Paul says, has a sociological, and spiritual role to play, and that biological paternity is not as important as the spiritual dimension. e.g. Saint Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, but Mary and others still refer to him as Christ’s father (Luke 2:48; 3:23; 4:22; John 1:45; 6:42).

Going back to Frog and Toad, “There is a sense of virtue in Frog’s approach to gardening that is missing from Toad’s.”2

A father is the patient gardener of his family. You build a life, and it builds you. You actually have to design a way of life for your family. That means that forming your child is more important than your job. It takes priority. Joseph was a trained carpenter who trained and taught Jesus this trade. Mark 6:3 says, of Jesus; “Isn’t this the carpenter?”

One spin-off application of the Frog and Toad story is the question, “Is it possible to have too much patience?”

Aristotle believed to be virtuous means having a certain kind of control over yourself and an ability to judge the correct actions to take in a given situation by trying for a middle course between an extreme of excess and an extreme of deficiency.3

Too much patience in Aristotle’s sense is that you are willing to wait forever for something that will never happen. If the seeds you plant are all sterile, they will never sprout.

E.g. I did everything right. I sent my kids to a Catholic school, etc.–That is not good enough anymore. TV shows up. The internet shows up. They get ambushed by the culture, which ends up with the potential to depress teens and young adults, talking them captive. That is why gardens often have little walls set up.

E.g. No mobile devices w/o digital and verbal controls for 12-year olds; looking at the school curriculum so Father’s understand when something is being taught against their Catholic Christian faith which is then identified, followed by a counter-balance measure that reduce the influence of that weed. Our Second Reading reminds us our task as fathers:  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, judged according to what we did in the body, whether good or evil.”

Fathers are called to say “We got to get to Sunday Mass. We got to pray the family rosary and go to confession,” both on a semi-regular basis– but you still have time for family fun especially on Sundays.

When a mother is a regular church-goer, but dad is not, there is less a chance their children will continue in the faith. Sociological studies show that an adult’s dead Christian faith is the result a spiritually dead, non-practicing Christian father. But when the father is a regular church-goer, but the mother is not, there is still a very good chance their children will continue in the faith.4

It means that evangelizing dad is the most important thing in the church. In the Bible, whenever God works with a group of people, He does not direct His energies toward the entire group, but toward a mediator. Think of Abraham, Moses or David: each of these men represented a much larger group of people. God first influenced and converted the one man, then He allowed that individual to influence the group he led and represented.5

So, father’s show up, and get fired up!  The mustard seed was small, but as St. Augustine pointed out, “it was also known for being remarkably hot, and its sharp taste was thought to indicate an enormous power to produce vigorous growth.”6

1-3 The Prindle Institute for Ethics, “The Garden” from Frog and Toad, prindleinstitute.org

4. Council of Europe, European Population Committee, The Demographic Characteristics of the Linguistic and Religious Groups in Switzerland (2000), 38.

5. Eric Sammons, No Church for Young Men, Crisis Magazine, 01/09/2020

6. James W. Scott, The misunderstood mustard seed, Trinity Journal, 36 no 1 Spr 2015, p 29-31