Thy Kingdom come!

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today Mark gives us an important message regarding faith and the Kingdom of God.

When preaching to the crowds Jesus often spoke in parables, leaving the people to think about and discern his message. Jesus mentions two parables about seeds in the Gospel reading today using them to explain the growth of faith and the greatness of God’s Kingdom which grows from small beginnings and is for the benefit of all people.

In the first parable Jesus says “this is what the Kingdom of God is like.” A man scatters seed which sprouts and develops over time. Then when the grain is ripe, the man harvests his crop. The emphasis in this parable is on the seed which is able to grow on its own, and so it is with the Kingdom of God. The forces of nature work at developing the seed without any intervention from the farmer. So it is with the Kingdom of God which grows in people’s hearts in God’s own way, whether we are aware of it or not. While on earth Jesus planted the seeds of the Kingdom by his life, miracles, teaching and suffering. However, the Kingdom is not yet fully established, just like the seed the Kingdom will grow and develop over time. Jesus’ ministry started in Galilee with a small group of twelve but it has grown and developed over time on its own accord, in its own way, often unseen, or un recognised but throughout a diversity of different people. The seed of God’s Kingdom is someone opening themselves up to the possibility of God being real and active in their lives no matter how small or insignificant they might seem.

The second parable focuses on the tiny mustard seed. Small as it is the mustard seed develops into a tree around three meters in height and spreads out its branches in which birds may find shelter. Just as the tree welcomes the birds, so God’s Kingdom is welcome and open for many. Mark wrote his Gospel for a mainly non-Jewish audience who would be able to identify with this reference to all people (the Gentiles) being able to find a place in the Kingdom. In the ancient world the mustard seed was associated with the smallest and most insignificant thing anyone could imagine and the phrase “birds of the air” was a traditional Jewish expression for the Gentiles.

These parables help us discern something about the Kingdom of God and our own faith journey. As Christians we live and have our very being in God who is a mystery and his Kingdom though present has not yet come into its fullness. Today, the Kingdom of God is present in the Church and just like the seeds it needs time to come to fruition. That is why we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy Kingdom come.” We know that it will come in its fullness at the end of time. What we need is faith.

A reading from the Gospel of Mark (Mk 4: 26-34)

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all 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 kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it 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.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ

  1. Read the Gospel story so that you are familiar with it.
  2. Reflect on what the Gospel story is saying to you. Which points would you highlight and why?
  3. What parts of your life do you see yourself opening up more to God’s Kingdom? Perhaps you can ask more questions about God, or try to seek more meaning from the Bible or talk to God more through prayer.
  4. How as parents can you help to open the hearts of your children to the surprises and small beginnings of God’s plan for their lives? Encouraging family prayer time is one way as well as going to mass together.
  5. Together with your family find the right time to read this Gospel. The environment helps, so before you start, prepare;
    i. The Bible reading from St Mark (4: 26-34)
    ii. A candle
    iii. Cover the table with a green cloth
    iv. A computer/laptop with the readings and clips
  6. Go through the steps with your children (2 age groups are being suggested).
  7. Feel free to adapt to your situation.
  8. Be creative

Today Jesus tells us a parable, this is a story which gives us a spiritual message. Jesus often told stories which teach us a lesson about how we should live our lives. Today Jesus uses a very small mustard seed to explain the importance and power of faith.

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  • We are a part of God’s Kingdom
  • The smallest of actions can have huge results
  • Seed template
  • Scissors and glue stick
  • Colours
  • Dried beans (any type)

Have you ever seen a mustard seed? They are very tiny seeds, almost too small to see, even smaller than a black peppercorn! In fact, if you dropped it on the floor you might not be able to find it. Even though it is a very small seed when a mustard seed is planted in the soil it grows into a very large plant. So large that birds can perch on its branches and can even build their nests in it, it can grow over three metres tall and its branches spread out creating shade. They were a common plant in the time of Jesus, the people knew what they looked like.

Jesus told a parable comparing the mustard seed to the Kingdom of God. He is trying to show us what God’s Kingdom is like. Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to explain it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of seeds, but it becomes the largest of plants and birds can make their nests in the shade of its branches.”  

How is this a picture of the Kingdom of God? What is Jesus trying to tell us? Jesus is telling us that size doesn’t matter, even the tiniest seed can produce a great big tree. The same is true for us, even the smallest person can do great things and even the smallest action can have big results. For example, a simple smile can cheer someone up and make them smile too! If lots of people do small things like doing helpful deeds and saying kind words and they join their actions together then they are building God’s Kingdom on earth. The Kingdom of God grows from small beginnings like a tiny mustard seed that grows into a big tree.We can create our own illustration of today’s Gospel, which shows that from a small beginning like the mustard seed God’s Kingdom will grow very big when the word of God is planted in our hearts. Print the template and follow the instructions from above whilst doing this activity you can listen to, Faith as Small as a Mustard Seed.

Sign of the Cross

Dear Lord, with your love and care even the smallest things grow to greatness. Help us to grow to become great members of your Kingdom. We ask this in Jesus’ name.


In the coming weeks, we will listen to stories Jesus said. We call these parables. Jesus uses these parables to teach; we will also read about other teachings of Jesus. Today, Jesus teaches us about the Kingdom of God.

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  • Acts of kindness and caring words help to grow God’s Kingdom 
  • Helping others we are inviting them into the Kingdom of God
  • The tree template
  • Green craft card
  • Scissors and glue
  • Pencil and colours

We live in an age of modern technology, mobile phones, computers and laptops. When Jesus was alive he had none of these things to tell the people about God’s Kingdom. He couldn’t say “just Google the answer” if people asked him a question!

Jesus taught the people by telling them stories which are called parables. In the Gospel today Jesus tells two parables about seeds to explain the Kingdom of God. Jesus said “What is God’s Kingdom like? What story can I use to explain it? It is like what happens when a mustard seed is planted in the ground. It is the smallest seed in the world. But once it is planted, it grows larger than any garden plant. It even puts out branches that are big enough for birds to rest in its shade.” As you know seeds when they are planted in the ground need time to germinate and first they produce a small shoot which over time grows into a large plant or even a tree. What can we learn from this parable about a tiny seed which grows into a very large tree? Just as small seeds grow over time, so our small acts of kindness today have the possibility of making a big difference in the future. Jesus chose and taught twelve disciples to help him grow God’s Kingdom on earth.

Today this Kingdom is present in the Church but it is still in process and because we are the Church we have the responsibility of continuing the work of Jesus and his disciples. We can do this because the word of God is planted in our hearts and as we grow in kindness, love, patience and forgiveness, we share God’s love with others and this is how God’s Kingdom grows.This week you can help grow the Kingdom of God by doing good deeds for others. Think of ways you can do this, like going to mass, praying for a friend, reading the Bible, calling someone who is lonely for a chat, even just being cheerful and smiling is helping to grow God’s Kingdom. Print the Tree template and cut out leaf shapes from the green card. Then write on the leaves how you are going to help grow God’s Kingdom this week and glue them onto the tree. You can write your name in the heart shape. Do this whilst listening to this song:  Shine and Serve.

Sign of the Cross.

Loving God, I believe in your Kingdom which grows bigger every day. I believe in Jesus, who teaches us to share your love with others. I believe in the Holy Spirit, who helps us to know the right thing to do. Inspire me to actively help to grow your Kingdom. Amen.

1. In today's Gospel, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to......

Correct! Wrong!

2. The seed that Jesus uses to describe the Kingdom of God is also more peculiar. It is .........

Correct! Wrong!

3. This seed becomes a large tree that spreads its branches, so that under it.......

Correct! Wrong!

4. In order for them to understand his message, Jesus spoke to the Apostles .......

Correct! Wrong!

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.