11th Sunday in Ordinary Time. June 14th 2015.
Ez 17:22-24; 2Cor 5:6-10; Mk 4:26-34
The mystery and power of the kingdom within
Jesus uses two parables today to illustrate the Kingdom of God. The first is that of a man who “scatters seed on the land,” though he does not know how the seed would grow nor does he perceive its stages of growth. “The seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.” The seeds of God’s kingdom, His love and grace, planted in us grows in mysterious ways, even through the trials, temptations, and pains of life, through those dark moments when we think that God is not present or active in our lives. Indeed, we cannot understand how this seed grows but we know that it grows because God has imbued this seed with a life that prevails over all things.
The second parable is about the mustard seed, “the smallest of all the seeds on the earth,” which, when sown, grows into the “largest plants.” Not only does the seed of the kingdom grow mysteriously within each of us; but it grows to the extent that it moves us to affect other lives for the better. “It springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches so that all the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
On one hand, we cannot understand how this seed grows within us but on the other hand, we experience its power to make a difference in the world. I was reminded of these two inseparable aspects of the kingdom a few weeks ago when I met a devout lady here in Manila whose husband left her after over 16 years of marriage. They had no children together. He just got up one day and moved out of the house and never gave any reason for his action. She felt rejected, hurt and confused, wondering what she must have done to deserve this sort of treatment. Though she still prays for him and hopes for his return, she did not let his actions affect her or make her bitter. She refused to wallow in self-pity but has turned her life’s attention now to full volunteer work in an orphanage for sick and abandoned children, making use of all her time in loving and serving the children that she never had. In the dark stages of the seed’s growth within her, she has become light to others in darkness.
St. Paul reminds us that the presence and growth of this seed within us and its transforming effect in the world is both the result of God’s work and human cooperation. Speaking to the Corinthian church that was experiencing dissensions among many factions, he said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1Cor 3:6-7) We too have our part to play, we are not just passive receptors of the seeds of new life but we are to be fellow planters of this seed in others. In other words, we are to be what St. Paul calls “God’s fellow workers.”
It is this seed of faith that gives St. Paul the courage that he exhibits in today’s Second Reading, “We walk by faith, not by sight. Yet, we are courageous.” As he goes through the numerous trials and afflictions of life, moments in which the life of the seed within may not be manifested in himself, his faith moves him to “aspire to please the Lord.” He also draws added courage from the inevitable judgement that we all will face. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.” We shall be judged by how we cooperate with this seed by letting it bear fruit in our lives and by building up other people.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as children of God, our vocation involves more than receiving the love and grace of God as seeds. We are to embrace the mystery of this seed in our lives, the moments of no visible effects in our lives, while we seek to make this goodness that we bear the common heritage of all people. We never receive the seed of God’s kingdom for ourselves alone.
Having received this seed, how can we be God’s fellow workers in its spread throughout the world? We do this in three ways – tell them, show them and pray for them. We must tell them in clear words the Good News of God’s life and love within us, what it requires of us, and its ability to transform us into saints. We must then show them by our good examples the transforming power of this seed within us. Lastly, we support them with our patient prayer for them.
We live in a world that is growing ever more and more alienated from and deaf to the Christian message. There is the constant temptation to change the teachings of our faith to appeal to the times especially in sexual morality. There is also the numerous scandals among Christians and rapid abandoning of the faith by individuals and countries that were traditionally Christian. Then we look at ourselves and notice our own struggles in the spiritual life and then we say, “Who am I to spread the seed of the kingdom when I am not even sure that I belong to the kingdom?” It is so easy to let the actions of others to affect us and leave us discouraged. At times like this, we need to remind ourselves of the mystery and divine power of this seed so that we continue to plant with faith and wait with courage as the seed grows in the hearts that are receptive.
Remember the words of St. Paul, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” He will judge us because He knows the power of the seed of divine goodness that He has placed in us, the innumerable helps He has freely bestowed on us for the sake of this seed’s growth and the numerous opportunities we have to touch the lives of others for the better even as this seed grows mysteriously. We shall be judged not by our results but by how faithfully we tell, show and help others with our prayers to bear the seeds of the kingdom too.
Every sacramental action intensifies and strengthens the life of the seed within us. Now is the time to tell others, show them and pray that they too will know the and experience the power and mystery of the seed that God has so lovingly planted in us through Jesus Christ His Son whom we encounter in this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!