By Jillian Zaczyk

I had been anticipating this night all week. I had reconfigured my outfit at least a dozen times in my head, wrote down notes to rehearse, and tried to paint a permanent smile on my face.

It was parent-teacher conference night, and now I was the teacher.

To my delight, all the meetings went well, and the parents were so kind and understanding. As my last meeting was approaching its end, I stood up to shake the parent’s hand. I politely said, “It was nice to meet you.” “Yes, it was nice to meet you as well. Your class is very challenging.” And with that she walked out the door. It was like the ultimate parent mic drop--totally caught off guard with no time to reply as she turned the corner.

To boot, now I had all night to let that single sentence run through my head.

What did she mean by that? Was her tone suggesting that was good? Bad? Don’t parents want their teens to be challenged? Such a small, inconsequential sentence ran through my heart and mind all night overshadowing all the other obviously positive interactions.

The Gospel of the Mustard Seed is one of Jesus’s most well known parables about the kingdom of God. Jesus is responding to the question, “What is the Kingdom of God like?” The Mustard Seed demonstrates that while the kingdom started small, with the coming of Jesus, it will and has grown far beyond imagination. Reflecting on this reading in the past I have easily shrugged it off thinking: Ya, ya if you have a little faith that is all it takes to grow into a great, big bush of faith.

What seeds do you plant in your mind and heart?

As a type-A, planner, worrier, I know myself well enough to say most of the positive, little or big things in my life get squashed by the tiniest bit of negativity or uncertainty. Just like this parent’s harmless statement, I let it consume me. It is the mustard seeds of doubt, worry, and negativity I let grow in my heart and mind rather than the ones of love and faith.

How can I prepare my soul to be fertile land for the right seeds?

Today let us challenge ourselves to be Christians and Catholics of joyful growth. May our hearts and minds prioritize the moments where Jesus meets us face to face. Whether it is a smile in the hallway, a text from a friend, or a hug or kiss from our spouse or children, these are where the Kingdom lives, these are seeds that are worth planting.



Jillian wants to live in a world filled with corny jokes and coffee mugs that refill themselves. She is a youth minister, teacher, and missionary discovering God's joy and humor around the world. Her mission is to encounter Jesus and grow in solidarity with everyone she meets, especially the poor. Jillian graduated in May 2015 with a Master of Theological Studies from Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry. She and her husband, Jason, live in Cleveland with their lovable labrador retriever.