In our Monday group, we start with Sunday’s gospel and see where it goes.
This time, it was Mark’s Parable of the Mustard Seed — that tiny seed growing into “the largest of plants.”
I was ready. I wanted to ask what they thought of Jesus comparing the Kingdom of God to a weed. That’s what the Black Mustard plant was — an invasive weed, the kudzu of Capernaum, the Johnson grass of Jericho.
The point wasn’t that it was a weed, but that it was invasive. It was always spreading its seed, unstoppable, always alive and growing in ways we often fail to see or understand.
But then a man started talking about a mustard seed in his life. He had a church-going childhood, full of Bible teaching and Baptist preaching.
Then some pernicious weeds took over the garden of his youth. Drugs and alcohol offered high times, but failed to mention the crimes needed to pay the piper instead of the preacher.
One day, between prison and jail, messed up on heroin, he was assaulted by the devils and fiends lurking in the deep shadows of his life.
He was overcome by a fear he had never known. He had to talk to someone and chanced upon an open Catholic church.
He met a deacon in the stairwell and asked in desperation if he believed in demons. When the deacon replied “Yes” without hesitation or clarification, the man unloaded the burden he carried. Once relieved, he wanted to change.
Feeling some parochial pride in how that worked out, we asked another how he came to Jesus, or at least to our Bible group. The kudos Catholics got in the first story seemed less exclusive when this young man answered “meth.”
He had an invisible youth. He was last picked in sports, lost in the classroom, and lived far outside the “in crowd.”
Meth was a game-changer and an easy score. All cranked up, he was someone else — energetic, confident, maybe even feeling he belonged. With time and abuse, all that devolved into nervous, nauseous, and irritable.
The drug that would change his life turned on him and tried to destroy it. That lethal emptiness of meth warned him he was going to need something more abiding, more loving, more hopeful if he was going to survive.
We never did get to that invasive weed, but I suddenly realized that the unrelenting kingdom was at work in our midst.