Sunday reflection by Very Reverend Stephen E. Salocks, Rector of Saint John's Seminary - June 13, 2021
On the Eleventh Sunday of the Year, the Word of God speaks to us about the power and reign of God in our lives. The presence and working of God’s Kingdom may seem to be so small and insignificant as to be unnoticeable, but God is continually sowing the seeds of his love, grace, and mercy in our hearts and souls, our Church, and our world. The Scriptures proclaimed help us to understand and respond.
In the First Reading, God speaks to the people in captivity and exile through the prophet Ezekiel. While Israel’s situation results from its idolatry and unfaithfulness, the prophet offers them hope as he tells them of God’s intention to take a tender shoot from the topmost branches of the cedar and plant it on Israel’s heights. The action might seem small and insignificant in a time of hardship, but it is brought about by the Lord, who “brings low the high tree and lifts high the lowly tree." Even in difficult times, God’s people are to trust that God has not forgotten them and that he will bring them home and restore them. The prophecy compels us to look for and wait for the presence and work of God in our lives.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus draws on the spirit and imagery of Ezekiel’s prophecy and teaches about the growth of God’s Kingdom in terms of seed that is sown and of the seed’s slow, imperceptible, even mysterious growth in a process that requires the farmer’s trust and patience. The passage reminds us that the Kingdom of God is about the Lord’s work and not about human achievement. We are called to cooperate, but we cannot control the way the Kingdom becomes present and grows.
With the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus continues to explain the mysterious growth of the Kingdom. Just as the smallest of seeds can become the largest of plants, so the tiniest, most insignificant moments of God’s grace can have far-reaching consequences, whether it is the spread of the Gospel in our world or the impetus for the growth of repentance and healing in our hearts and in our relationships.
As the Gospel passage comes to an end, we are told that while Jesus taught in parables, he explained everything to his disciples. It is important that disciples, then and now, continue to approach our Lord for understanding and explanation of his teaching, especially through prayer and reflection on God’s Word. Today, Saint Paul reminds us that “we walk by faith, not by sight.” We believe that our Lord continues to sow the seeds of the Kingdom in our world and in our lives. The Kingdom of God continues to grow in our midst in ways that are beyond our understanding.
Today and this week, we do well to pray that our Lord will continue to give us his loving help and care so that the life and the seeds of the Kingdom he has planted in our midst will continue to grow. With God’s grace, may we continue to answer his call, follow his lead, and “please [him] by our resolve and our deeds” (cf. Collect for Mass).