11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Vinner)
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Jesus uses the image of the kingdom of God as likened to the sowing of seeds. The first reading from Ezekiel also uses the analogy of God planting a tender shoot that shall “put forth branches and bear fruit”. Finally in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he directs us to be courageous because all that we do in our bodies while in the world will eventually be accounted for. This is also Father’s Day weekend and the readings remind us that our Father in heaven is the planter and sower of seeds. In some imitative way all fathers on Earth are called to be an image of the sower of seeds and it will take great courage to be thus. Pride in the ‘historic man’ often leads to a desire to dominate and grasp which are not the values imaged by Jesus in using these parables of sowing seeds. Genesis tells us of the fallen relationship of Adam and Eve (referring first to Eve), “Your desire shall be for your husband, but he will dominate you” (Genesis 3:16). Of course domination is not exclusive to men and not exclusive to only the relationship of spouses. All of us have a tendency to not be patient but to dominate others in an attempt to obtain what our hearts desire.
Today’s Gospel Reading consists of two parables about seeds. In the first, Jesus tells those gathered that this is “how it is with the kingdom of God.” A man scatters seed which over time sprouts and develops. Then when the grain is ripe, the man harvests his crop. The emphasis in the parable is on the seed, which seemingly has the power to grow on its own. In this it is like the Kingdom of God. While on earth, Jesus planted the seeds of the kingdom by his life, miracles, teaching, and suffering. However, the kingdom is not yet fully established. Although already present in Jesus and his group of twelve, it has yet to come to fruition; just as the seed in the parable needs time to grow, so does God’s kingdom.
The second parable focuses on the tiny mustard seed. Though not the smallest of all seeds, it is most likely the smallest that a first-century farmer in Jesus’ part of the world would have sown. Small as the mustard seed is, it develops into a tree. Though the mustard tree generally averages only nine to twelve feet in height, it has a wide expanse and provides a nesting place for birds. Just as the tree welcomes the birds, so is God’s kingdom welcoming and open to many.
These parables help us discern something about the kingdom of God and our own faith. In God we live and move and have our being, but God is a mystery and his kingdom, though present, has not yet come into its fullness. Today, the Kingdom of God is present in the Church. The mission of proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom given to the Apostles is now given to us. But just as seeds need time to come to fruition, so does the Kingdom of God. That is why in the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “thy kingdom come.” We know that it will come in its fullness at the end of time. All we need is faith.
Fathers are in a place that is unique and powerful and yet that power is in the love that they humbly can initiate rather than in any dominance that they may claim. St. John Paul tells us, “With shame, the human being manifests ‘instinctively,’ as it were, the need for the affirmation and acceptance of this ‘I’ according to its proper value” (TOB 12:1). He means this in the sense, of course, of husband and wife and their personal value being recognized by each other but this is just as important regarding the personal value of all in relation to the self. This is where the seeds of new fruit-bearing life are sown. A father’s affirmation of his bride and of his children is the most important gift that he has to give. That affirmation of their value is in effect the greatest of all acts of love and is shown, indeed, as an act of love.
We need to cooperate in the growth of God’s Kingdom: The Kingdom of God is the growth of God’s rule in human hearts that occurs when man does the will of God and surrenders his life to God. The seed of Faith lies dormant within each of us. When we permit the Holy Spirit to nurture it with TLC (tender loving care), it grows miraculously into gigantic proportions. The growth is slow and microscopic in the beginning. But the seed grows by using the power of the Holy Spirit, given to us through the word of God, the Mass, the Sacraments and prayer. As we learn God’s will from His words and try to put these words into practice, we participate in the growth of God’s Kingdom on earth, a growth which will be completed in our Heavenly life. But since we need the special anointing of the Holy Spirit to be doers of the word of God, let us offer our lives before God every day, asking for this special anointing.
We need not get discouraged: Since the acceptance God’s rule by human beings is a very slow process, there is the danger of discouragement and hopelessness among preachers, evangelizers and believers. The conviction that growth of the Kingdom of God is the work of the Holy Spirit with our humble cooperation should make us optimistic in continuing our work of witnessing. We should continue sowing tiny seeds in the form of words of love, acts of encouragement, deeds of charity, mercy and forgiveness.
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN