Do Small Things

User's Guide to Sunday, June 14


Sunday, June 14, is the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B).


Mass Readings

Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92:2-3, 13-16; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34


Our Take

In today’s Gospel, Jesus points out that a mustard seed grows from small beginnings to reach an enormous size.

If you look back at your life, you will find that sometimes the seemingly most inconsequential actions were the most important.

We have told our own faith story a little bit before, but it is helpful to look at it in terms of the small actions that caused it.

Action one: In the 1930s, in Tucson, Ariz., a Catholic boy told a Protestant friend about the scriptural origins of the Hail Mary. This led to his friend’s conversion. The friend became Father Arthur Swain, a professor in San Francisco.

Action two: In the 1980s, also in Tucson, Tom had drifted from his faith when two old friends enthusiastically encouraged him to join a Catholic Great Books program in San Francisco.

Action three: In 1980s Orange County, Calif., a youth minister at a parish known for dissent told April about the same program in San Francisco. We found our faith and each other at that program.

Action four: When we got married, Father Swain was the celebrant — and he gave a powerful homily that deeply moved many in the congregation.

One couple told us that they canceled their planned separation afterwards and decided to work things out. They are together to this day. One young man told me that it was a key turning point in his decision to become a priest — and his priesthood has touched countless lives.

Our story shows how small actions have huge consequences with God: A boy evangelizes a friend; friends suggest a better path to a young man; a youth minister sticks it out in a tough parish and makes the most of it, encouraging a young woman to enter a good program; a priest gives a no-nonsense but love-filled homily about the indissolubility of marriage, with lasting vocational consequences.

We can worry in our faith life that we are not doing enough, not doing big, bold things for God. The Parable of the Mustard Seed reminds us that our task is much more humble: Our job is to cultivate our Christian life, keeping away the things that might choke it off — and to plant small seeds.

Our job is to do small things and let God take care of the rest. In today’s second reading, St. Paul reminds us, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” As the Gospel says, we may not see seeds of faith grow day by day, but if we have the chance to see those years from now, we will be startled at how they have grown.


Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,

where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.

In Advent, we await the coming of Jesus at Christmastime.

What Is Advent Anyway?

EXPLAINER: Advent is a season in the Church’s life intended to renew the experience of waiting and longing for the Messiah.