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In 1812 a young boy, Louis Braille, was accompanying his father in the family leather shop when he suffered

an accident that left him blind. When he was older, his family sent him to a school for the blind in Paris. At that time, the students read from huge books with the letters raised. It was a slow process to feel the raised letters and read this way. Then one day a retired French army officer, Charles Barbier, visited the school and introduced a method used by the army consisting of a series of holes to represent the letters of the alphabet. However, this method as well was slow and limited. Then Louis decided to develop his own method with raised dots now known throughout the world as Braille. Unfortunately, despite the importance of this invention it attracted little attention until after his death. His contribution to the blind was not even mentioned in his obituary. I thought of this story when I first read the gospel of this weekend (Mark 4:26-34). Jesus speaks to us of the mustard seed, seemingly insignificant, but that grows into a great tree. The invention of Louis Braille also seemed insignificant in its beginning, but grew into a renowned communication tool that revolutionized the world of the blind. Jesus tells us that such is the kingdom of God. It starts out small, seemingly insignificant, but grows and develops mysteriously, capturing our attention, and bearing fruit. This has many applications in our life of faith. One of them is that Jesus came in a time very unlike our own. It was a primitive time and the tools of communication were rudimentary. Just think what Jesus could have done with facebook and twitter! Yet, the message and mission of Jesus seemingly insignificant at times soon grew and developed, reaching across the earth, the centuries and the cultures to bring Gods Word and salvation to all. Just like with Louis Braille, it was only after the death of Jesus that the kingdom attracted the attention of the people. The seed of faith grew and developed mysteriously until it produced a tree the tree of life. Another way of looking at this analogy that Jesus gives us is our own personal life of faith. Seeds of faith were planted in us at an early age. Our parents shared their gift of faith with us, beginning in our Baptism. As we grew and developed they shared the faith with us introducing us to prayer, to worship, to the Word of God, and the values of the kingdom of God. I cant begin to count all the times that I visited friends and family to see their young children, often in their high chair, try to copy us making the Sign of the Cross (making a circular motion from head to right shoulder to chest to left shoulder to head, rather than from head to chest to left shoulder to right shoulder). Other significant people in our lives grandparents and godparents, in particular influenced our early faith development. As we were able to articulate and respond on our own eventually as teens and adults we were like that seed that had become a tree. We were now bearing fruit on our own! We were now having an influence on the faith life of others if we realized it or not.

Sometimes, in our human condition, it is tempting to think that we do not have influence, we do not have power. Often people will say, No one is listening, or I really cant make a difference. I beg to differ! Let us think of the seeds of faith, the seeds of the kingdom of God that were planted in us. It may help us to identify the people who shared their faith with us. Perhaps at the time we did not recognize it, or appreciate it. Sometimes, especially in regard to parents, people go through a stage where they disregard anything their parents say or do to show their independence. A lot of time and energy, and a lot of tears, are wasted in this exercise of independence. I thought of two particular people who were significant in my early life of faith. One was my maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Meyer, who lived with us part of the year after she sold her home. She was a woman of great faith. She would read to me, translating from her German Bible. This was my first introduction to the Word of God, at a time (the 1950s) when Catholics reading Scripture was more of an exception than the rule. Her faith was very important to her, and we would often pray together when I was a child. Another person who was significant in my early faith life was my Pastor, Fr. Donald Curtis. He was the founding Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Waterloo, and he was a kind, grandfather-like person. I was an Altar Server, and I always thought I was one of his favourites. Two great influences he had on me were his love for children and his ability to remember peoples names. I can remember him walking through the school yard at recess time and not only talking to us, but listening to us. He was my first and most powerful model of priesthood. Now think of yourself. How have you planted the seeds of faith and of the kingdom of God in the lives of others? Dont deny it! Rather, give thanks to God that you have grown to full stature and are bearing fruit of the kingdom of God in your daily life. Did Louis Braille think he was revolutionizing the lives of blind people forever through his invention? I doubt it. Never underestimate the examples of faith that you give to others your active participation in the Eucharist every weekend; your example of personal and family prayer at meals, and to begin and end your day; your love of the Word of God and your desire to know more about it; your stewardship of your time, talents and treasure in service of others. You are planting these seeds and may not even know it. The life of your spouse, your child, your grandchild, your sibling or even your parent may be enhanced and enriched by your planting and nurturing of the seed of faith. Inspired by this gospel, may we share the life of Christ with others and do our part in the building up of the kingdom of God here and now, beginning with a tiny seed, beginning with an act of faith given in love.