13Jun June 13, 2021. Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Ezekiel 17:22-24

It is the Lord who plants and grows; who raises and humbles.

Thus says the Lord God:

“I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out. I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs; I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it, so that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar.

Under it every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind. All the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord. I bring low the high tree, I make high the low tree; I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken; I will accomplish it.”

Responsorial: from Psalm 92

R./: Lord, it is good to give thanks to you

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praise to your name, Most High,
to proclaim your kindness at dawn
and your faithfulness throughout the night. (R./)

The just one shall flourish like the palm tree,
like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.
They that are planted in the house of the Lord
shall flourish in the courts of our God. (R./)

They shall bear fruit even in old age;
vigorous and sturdy shall they be,
declaring how just is the Lord,
my rock, in whom there is no wrong. (R./)

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:6-10

Paul’s boundless confidence in God, in spite of setbacks and opposition.

We are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

Gospel: Mark 4:26-34

In a parable, Jesus notes the mysterious miracle of growth and fruitfulness.

Jesus said to the crowds, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.


Purposeful Inactivity

With this Sunday, we return to “ordinary time” and take up again the regular reading of Mark. We get to hear one of the very few passages in Mark not taken up by Matthew or Luke, the parable of the farmer asleep. With all the drive and tension in Mark, it is refreshing to reflect on this parable of purposeful inactivity. [Kieran O’Mahony]


May our church be fruitful

Spiritual renewal is the gift of God, through the Holy Spirit and through prayer. As Ezekiel—surely a keen gardener himself—puts it graphically, it is God who does the fundamental planting of his people. The sprig from the cedar’s lofty top is planted on a high mountain, and for a noble purpose. In our tradition, God’s favoured tree is the holy catholic church, called to be a welcoming family, source of both enlightenment and comfort to people of all nations. This tree, of God’s own planting, must be there “so that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar” providing shade for creatures of all kinds.

Jesus was a great believer in and promoter of renewal, both of his hearers’ personal outlook and of the structures and priorities of the Jewish religion. In today’s parable, he draws attention to the mysterious miracle of growth and fruitfulness. Yes, of course the gardener must do the initial spadework, and subsequently whatever weeding and watering may be required; but in the end it is the Spirit of God who makes fruitful change happen. So we call on the Pentecostal Spirit to breathe strongly on our Church today, and awaken in all our hearts that loving desire for sharing, for communion, which is the ideal at the heart of each Eucharistic congress, and indeed of every Mass.

When it comes to rediscovering spiritual priorities in our lives, we can find uplift in today’s hope-filled words from St. Paul. In the middle of all the turmoil and tension he felt in dealing with dissent in Corinth, he holds on to his confidence in Christ, as his invisible, ever-present friend. Paul can be serene even at the prospect of his own death, when he will be more “at home with the Lord.” He then adds a guiding principle valid for each one of us: “Whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” Without giving up on all hope for collegiality and dialogue in our Church, these are secondary to our basic trust that it is and will remain the Church of Jesus Christ, whose Spirit will stir up whatever is needed to make his Church grow and thrive.


How does it happen?

Children are great for asking questions. They ask one question and, having received an answer, they ask another. As children grow into adolescence, they begin to ask more probing questions, questions that look for some kind of light to be cast on the deeper issues of life. In time, they may come to realize that clear answers are not always to be found to life’s more profound questions. As adults we often have to reconcile ourselves to living with many unanswered questions. We discover that all our searching will never exhaust the many mysteries of life. We continue to take delight in making fresh discoveries, but we also realize that coming to terms with ‘not knowing’ is an important part of life’s journey.

Today Jesus speaks a parable which acknowledges the mystery that is at the heart of the most everyday experiences of life. A farmer scatters seed on the good soil of Galilee. Having done the sowing, all he can do is to go about his other business, while the seed takes over and does its own work, producing first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear, until the crop is ready for harvest. In the parable it is said of the farmer that ‘he does not know’ how all this happens. Between his actions of sowing the seed and harvesting the crop, a great deal of activity goes on, which is invisible to him and which he does not fully understand. There is a great deal in our world which we do not fully understand, in spite of the great expertise that has developed over the centuries on all aspects of our universe.

He begins with the statement, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like.’ Jesus seems to be saying that if the farmer does not know the ways of the humble seed, how can any of us fully know the ways of God? If growth in the natural world is mysterious, how much more mysterious must be the growth of God’s kingdom? The Jewish author of the book of Qoheleth expressed it well, ‘Just as you do not know how the breath comes into the bones in the mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything.’ With the parable of the seed growing secretly Jesus says that the kingdom of God can be growing among us in ways that we do not fully understand, just as the seed the farmer sows in the ground grows to harvest in ways he does not understand. There is a reassuring, hopeful message here for all of us who may be tempted to discouragement by the slow progress that the ways of God appear to be making in the world. The spreading of God’s reign is ultimately God’s work and that work is always under way, even when we do not see it or understand it. We have a part to play in the coming of God’s way of doing things among us, just as the farmer has a role to play in the coming of the final harvest. However, that first parable in the gospel warns us against overestimating our role. St Paul expresses this perspective well in his first letter to the Corinthians, ‘Neither the one who plants, nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.’

The second parable in today’s gospel reminds us that God can be at work in situations and places that seem very unpromising to us. There is a stark contrast between the tiny mustard seed (the smallest of all the seeds), and the large shrub that grows from it, in whose branches the birds of the air can nest. Insignificant beginnings can lead to a wonderful result. The kingdom of God is like that; it often finds expression initially in what is small and seemingly insignificant. We can feel that our own faith is insignificant, as small as a mustard seed. Jesus assures us that the Spirit is working in and through such faith. Our hope can appear to diminish to the size of a mustard seed. The parable says that such hope is enough for the Lord to work with. Our various efforts can seem to bear very insignificant results. The parable assures us that the Lord will see to it that the final harvest from those efforts will be abundant.

Sometimes we have to learn to be content with the small seeds that we can sow, trusting them to bear fruit in ways that will surprise us. The kingdom of God is something very humble and modest in its origins. We need to learn to appreciate little things and small gestures. We may not feel called to be heroes or martyrs every day, but we are called to put a little dignity into each corner of our little world. There are little seeds of the kingdom that all of us can sow, a friendly gesture towards someone in trouble, a welcoming smile for someone who is alone, a sign of closeness for someone who is in despair, a little ray of joy for a heart full of distress. God’s reign comes in power through the seemingly insignificant actions of each of one us.


 

One Response

  1. Thara Benedicta

    Key Message:
    Faith makes our life simple and easy!!

    Homily:
    Takeaway from First Reading:
    Our Almighty God says that He will raise the lowly ones and humble the lofty ones as He decides.
    This verse gives us a lot of encouragement to face fierce battles in our life. For example, in our workplaces, we see people who are in high places do a lot of manipulation to bring down others. In order to take care of the families, in spite of the injustice done to them, people continue in the same job without raising their voices. But our Heavenly Father sees it!! God will raise our heads high in front of the same people when we hold steadfast to Him. He will fight our battles. God will recompense in some way.

    Takeaway from Second Reading:
    The Apostle Paul says, ‘Walk by faith and not by sight’. Walking by faith and walking by sight are two opposite ways of living.
    When a person walks by sight, then He does not walk in reference to God. He will make his own manipulative calculations and does everything according to his own will. He gives more priority to what he feels than what is right. He does not think beyond his time on earth. God will leave him to fight his own battles.
    But when a person walks by faith, He tries to reference God in everything He does. Even if he feels that he may not win in the world by doing the right thing, He will still do the right thing. (Because He has the faith that his Father in Heaven will take care of him). He will search for the right action to be taken w.r.t. God’s word and will follow the little voice of the Holy Spirit.
    There is a strong battle in our lives whenever we make decisions – whether to take a decision by Faith or to take a decision by Sight (our feelings). Feelings can mislead us and they can steal our faith. They change constantly. We can have a change in our feelings about the same person or incident multiple times per week. If we throw out words based on how we feel, it is hard to compensate for them. We should rise beyond our feelings and walk by faith. A practical way of taking any decision is to pray, refer to the word of God or follow the little voice of the Holy Spirit, rather than deciding by how we feel.

    Takeaway from Gospel Reading:
    What is the “Kingdom of God”?
    There are kings in this world who rule their respective nations. Similarly, Christ is our King, seated in our hearts. The ‘Kingdom of God’ dwells in our hearts. Whoever has faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as their saviour is part of the ‘Kingdom of God’. So the ‘Kingdom of God’ transcends all nations, languages, tribes and has no physical boundaries.
    How do we take citizenship in the ‘Kingdom of God’?
    Whoever has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is blessed to be a citizen of the ‘Kingdom of God’ while living in the world.
    Who belongs to the Army of the Kingdom of God?
    Rulers of this earth send their armies to capture the opposing nations. But Jesus sends His priests, nuns, workers (St. Paul calls as – fellow workers) to bring souls to God’s kingdom.
    The law book of the ‘Kingdom of God’ is: ‘The Bible’.
    The nationality of the ‘Kingdom of God’ is: Marked by the ‘Spirit of God’ in our hearts.
    The parable of ‘The Kingdom of God’ being compared to a tiny mustard seed growing up to a very big tree’ is a reality now. ‘The Kingdom of God’ which was sowed by Jesus has become a church of God spanning across almost all the nations of the world.
    (Mathew 12:28 -But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you…)

    Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is the basis for entering God’s kingdom.
    By Faith, we can move mountains. Let us see how we can move the mountains in our life by faith.
    Tips for moving mountains with faith:

    1. Using faith for our daily life:
    John 6:28,29: Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”. Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
    If we are working for the church or if we are taking care of our families, it is the task assigned by God to us. Similarly, the people who asked Jesus, “What is the work God wants us to do?”, have their tasks assigned already to them. They should have been taking care of their own families since they were laypeople. Jesus did not ask them to do anything radically different. All He asked them to do is, “Always believe in me”. God knows that we are not sufficient enough to handle our own life. So He is asking us to believe in Him to take care of us.
    How do we believe in our daily life?
    1. First meet God, before meeting anyone else, every day.
    If we spend time with God everyday morning, we will get a sense of fulfilment and a deep faith that God will help me to handle my day. No need to handle the day on my own.

    2. Throughout the day whenever the heart is burdened or faced with a challenge, have a conversation with God. Instead of trying to share with someone else share with God first. God will surely listen to it and will respond depending on the root cause of the situation we are in.
    a. If it’s part of the pruning process, then He will enlighten us – We need to go through it and come out with major lessons learned.
    b. If it’s part of His agony on the cross, then it is a privilege for us – since we do not have the opportunity to suffer for Him, once we reach Heaven.
    c. If our sins are causing us to suffer – then He will forgive and redeem us, once we repent.
    Let us have a walk with God every day.

    3. Overcoming fear with faith:
    “Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is nothing to do with what we see or what we feel. It is a deep knowing in our heart that Jesus is my good God. He will never leave me nor forsake me. If you are seized with fear, then we can say “Jesus is my Lord. He sacrificed His life for me. He loves me. However difficult the current situation is, or however long it takes for me to get my breakthrough, I believe that Jesus will make me a conqueror. He has stored my tears in a bottle. He has remembered my wanderings. He will give me beauty for my ashes.

    4. Overcoming guilt with faith:
    Though we intend to walk with Christ always, we may fall into occasions of sins. But that should not demotivate us in our walk with Christ. With a repentant heart, we should seek forgiveness from Jesus and with faith, we should receive it. If we stay mad at ourselves and do not forgive ourselves, then we will be frustrating ourselves unnecessarily. Feeling guilty is like carrying an invisible bag of burden all the time on our shoulders. Like the good thief let us realise our mistake and receive forgiveness from Jesus on the cross.
    Example:
    The Apostle Peter had great faith in the forgiveness of our Lord Jesus. Although he denied Jesus multiple times, he cried with a repentant heart and trusted that Jesus will forgive him. Let us think about the Apostle Peter feeling bad about the sin all the time. He would have carried his bag of guilt everywhere he went and would not have been able to focus on working for the ‘Kingdom of God’. Some of us carry the bag of guilt for more than 5 years for the same sin. We tend to think that we cannot do anything right, no one falls into sin as many times as I do, and so on. But Jesus wants us to forget our sins as soon as He forgives us and live a purposeful life for His kingdom.

    God is our best Friend for hanging out with always!


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