Why Seminarians Are Small Beans

The following sounds like today’s gospel passage, but I made a few alterations to make a point. Perhaps you will understand. If not, I will explain.

“This is how it is with the [religious studying for the priesthood];
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”

He said,
“To what shall we compare the [religious studying for the priesthood],
or what parable can we use for it?
[He] is like a mustard seed that, when [he] is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

 

I entered religious life 6 years ago and professed vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience 4 years ago, and I can say there have been few concrete moments where I say to myself, “look how fast I am growing in faith and charity!” I can’t see myself growing except over long spans of time, and then I’m unable to put my finger on exactly what caused the growth. Was it that book I read? The story of that saint that inspired me? The example of my Christian community? I simply don’t know. But God is working. (That’s what the first parable meant to me.) God forms his religious for the priesthood, but we know not how He does it.

 

The second parable is about the mustard seed, the smallest seed. It’s true that we who are studying for the priesthood have our talents that God has given us just like everyone, but we’re small beans compared to our mission – give shade to the birds of the air. People will come to us with their problems, with their spiritual experiences, with their inspirations and temptations (perhaps mixing the two), and they want a place to rest. They want to know where God is leading them, and the seminarian, though a small seed, is called to be a great tree for the People of God in the future. We better get ready…

 

Now, I think that’s a valid interpretation. Jesus was speaking about the Kingdom of God (which means the Church… which means you too…) not just religious studying for the priesthood. But that’s what the gospel said to me about my vocation. What does it say to you about your vocation?

 

Photo Credit: Altura Homes

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Why Seminarians Are Small Beans