June 13, 2021 — Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
EZ 17:22-24; PS 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16; 2 COR 5:6-10; MK 4:26-34
As we enter back into Ordinary Time, our readings today remind us that heaven is our true home and that we cannot make it there without God’s assistance.
In our First Reading, the prophet Ezekiel foretells the coming of the Kingdom of God. It is through a newly planted cedar that God will bear fruit. As he says, “Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it… And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree.”
We can see that Jesus is the cedar that will become refuge for all people. He will humble the proud, lift up the lowly and produce good fruit in the weakened. It is God who does the wondrous works.
We often go through life wanting to be in control. We try to solve all our problems, as we think, “I can do it myself.” We cling to our own ideas by putting certain events, future plans or even day-to-day moments into a perfect little box, “This is the way I want it.” We can even push back in moments of suffering by trying to find every possible way to get out of it. We are “in control.”
Imagine what life would be like if we surrendered a little more. It is easier said than done — but, oh, how freeing it would be.
What if we opened our clenched hands to God and said, “Thy will be done”? What if we allowed God to be our problem solver or trusted in His plans for our lives? What if, instead of pushing away suffering, we actually resided in it with Christ Himself?
We would become free from attachment and more blessed than we could ever imagine.
Only God can do all that He promised in our First Reading. We need Him. All we need to do is surrender. To help us on this journey of total surrender, try starting each day with a prayer of surrender, “Lord, I give You this day and all that You have in store for me, my family and friends.”
Our Second Reading reminds us that we are not at home in this life, but in the next, as St. Paul says, “We would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.” This message is easy to say, but difficult to believe with our whole heart. We might look at our lives and think, “I like my home, I love my family and friends, and I enjoy the little comforts in my life. I don’t want to give that up.”
Eternal life will surpass anything we could ever imagine and hope for. It will fulfill our deepest desires and aching hearts, and we will be filled with lasting peace and pure joy. If we only knew how incredible our heaven is, then we would give God everything to get there. But as St. Paul reminds us, it is not something we can see — “We walk by faith, not by sight.” We are called to have eyes of faith and hearts of trust. Pray for the grace to have overwhelming faith.
In our Gospel, Jesus expresses two parables about the Kingdom of God. The first mentions a man scattering seed on the land. As time passes, the seed sprouts and grows — yet, the man does not know how it happened.
This parable reminds us of our call to scatter seeds of faith to others. Over time, God will work with those seeds and produce fruit. It is not our doing, but God’s doing. We need Him to produce the effects — all we can do is be good stewards of the knowledge and love for our faith.
We must ask ourselves, what are the ways I am scattering seeds of faith to others?
There are countless ways to do just that — teaching a faith formation class, leading RCIA or a Bible Study; reading saint stories or discussing the Sunday readings with your kids; praying with your spouse; openly discussing your faith with those around you, both Catholics and non-Catholics; actively living out your faith through service, prayer and sacraments. God will not only produce fruit from the seeds you scattered by your witness, but He will also grow more fruit in your life.
Jesus’ second parable relates the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. It is one of the tiniest seeds, that grows rapidly into a field of weeds. However, in the parable, Jesus compares the Kingdom to a mustard seed that grows into the largest of plants.
The beginnings of the Kingdom started out small, but have grown and continue to grow into something grand. This seems unlikely, since Jesus is comparing it to a mustard seed, but we have to recognize that He is describing the Kingdom of God — something that is out of this world and beyond what we can imagine.
As Christian disciples, we hope to reside in the branches of heaven, along with our family and friends. We cannot do this on our own. As our other readings mention, it is through the total surrender, complete faith and actively living out our faith as a witness to Christ that we can hope in eternal life.
As we settle into Ordinary Time, let us not become complacent, but keep our hearts and minds fixed on the Kingdom of God.