Seed Universe 106,
Created by Ilhwa Kim,
Executed in 2019,
Hand-dyed hanji paper
© Ilhwa Kim Art

Seed Universe 106,
Created by Ilhwa Kim,
Executed in 2019,
Hand-dyed hanji paper
© Ilhwa Kim Art

Gospel of 31 January 2020

The kingdom of God is a mustard seed growing

Mark 4: 26-34

Jesus said to the crowds: ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’

He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but He explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

Reflection on the Contemporary Work of Art

Today’s Gospel reading features two parables: the parable of the growing seed and the parable of the mustard seed. These two short parables have a lot in common with each other: both talk about what the kingdom of God is like; both have to do with seeds; and both have to do with growth. Like we discussed over the past two days, Jesus used these simple stories from everyday life to teach important truths about His Father to us. As He ‘told’ the stories, not everyone understood the true depth of these parables fully at the time, including his own disciples. He had to explain the parables to them later, as our Gospel reads: he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

This is quite a comforting thought, to see that even the disciples didn’t always get everything Jesus told them straightaway. Probably Jesus homed in the point when He was alone with them: that the parable of the growing seed teaches us that God is the One who makes His kingdom grow and that the parable of the mustard seed teaches us that Gods kingdom starts small but will grow amazingly large compared to its humble beginnings. So we are called to planting seeds and then trust that God will make them grow in His own time; not necessarily in our own time.

Ilhwa Kim is a Korean contemporary artist, who creates these ‘Seed Paintings’, combining an ancient Korean tradition with a contemporary interpretation. Each ‘seed’ as she calls them, is made by hand, out of Hanji, a traditional type of handmade Korean paper, from the inner bark of Paper Mulberry. The small sheets are dyed with thousands of different colours and then rolled into ‘seeds’. Not one of them is identical, just like the mustard seeds… each growing into different, unique trees…

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