June (16) 17, 2018
11th Sun Ord Time
Sat 4:30 pm, Sun 8 & 10 am
Ezekiel 17:22-24; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34
Happy Father’s Day!
This is the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time is a season of growth (Liturgical color green). And this Sunday we hear a lot about growth: trees and seeds and fruit and branches, planting and growing, farmers and birds and winged things. What does it all mean?
For background let’s look at the first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel where were hear about the Lord taking from the topmost branches of the cedar tree a tender shoot. This tender shoot would be planted on a high and lofty mountain and it would bear fruit and become a majestic cedar. And birds of every kind and every winged thing would dwell in it…*The first cedar tree represents the nation of Israel long before the time of Christ (the Jewish people and their faith all the way back to Abraham). The tender shoot is Jesus the Christ who came from the lineage (family line) of King David. Jesus the Messiah would establish the Kingdom of God (which would become like the majestic cedar). The Catholic Catechism tells us “The Church is the seed and beginning of the Kingdom” (CCC 567). In other words the Kingdom of God was begun by Christ establishing His Church. The Kingdom of God is here & now but not yet fully realized. And the birds and every winged thing in the first reading represent people of every nation and race who would dwell in Christ’s Church (Universal Catholic Church) and this Church would bear fruit.
In the Gospel Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. He says, “It is like a mustard seed that is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” Like the mustard seed that grows into the largest of plants the Catholic Church started out very small with just a few members but has grown into the largest religion in the world…Here at Resurrection we can relate to this “mustard seed” concept. Our community started out 48 years ago first meeting in a school with just a few families. It grew and built the multi-purpose building which was its place of worship for many years. And now our community has built this magnificent worship space for now and for generations to come. We are like the mustard seed…And I just want to say if you have been away from the Church for a while or if it is your first time here…welcome home!
But magnificent as this building is, it is us the people of God who make up the Kingdom (Church). And we are all called to grow this Kingdom by bearing fruit. How do we do that as individuals and as community? How do we spread and increase the Kingdom of God? By ourselves we cannot do it. We must do it together! You see by ourselves we are all small, tiny like the mustard seed. But together with others in the Body of Christ we are large and have the power to effect and to make a difference. Not one individual or just a handful of people built that first multi-purpose building. And not one individual or a hand-full of people built this magnificent space. It took all of our little mustard seeds together that made it happen. And it will take all of our seeds together to pay off the remaining balance all for the glory of God and to bear fruit for His Kingdom…In the same way not one individual or just a few people can operate this parish. It takes all of our mustard seeds together to bear fruit. By offering our gifts and talents as individuals we come together as one Body in Christ which has a powerful effect on ministry (liturgical, service, outreach & education). When we all offer our gifts of time, talent and treasure for the good of the community and for the good of the Kingdom then we bear fruit and then we grow the Kingdom of God.
But why would we want to grow the Kingdom of God? From where do we get our motivation and inspiration? We get our inspiration from faith and from a confident hope that because we are an active, faith-filled member of the Kingdom we will receive all the promises of God. We know that we are only passing through this world, on pilgrimage towards our heavenly home where the Kingdom will be fulfilled. The late, great Billy Graham (who passed this year) used to say, “My home is in heaven. I’m just traveling through.” If we really believe that then we will have the faith as St. Paul says in our 2nd reading, “We are always courageous…we walk by faith not by sight.” In other words, we know who we are (members of the Kingdom) and we know where we are going (our heavenly home). And because we know this to be true we want our loves ones and all others to have this same confidence, this same faith and hope that we have found.
But like I mentioned, the Kingdom has already begun. And as members of the Kingdom we are called to show others what the Kingdom looks like. We are to be ambassadors for Christ, showing the world what it means to be a Christian, living the Kingdom right here and right now. We are called to plant the seeds of hope, compassion and love by our words and our actions…We may hardly ever see the fruits or results of our efforts. It may seem like all that we do doesn’t make a difference. Don’t worry about that. Just do your part and trust that God will do His part. Just like in the first part of today’s Gospel, “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.” Just like the farmer scatters his seed and has faith that it will grow but doesn’t fully understand how or why – we do the same with the seeds of the Gospel. Scatter the seeds of faith and love and don’t worry about results. Leave that up to God.
In conclusion, the Kingdom of God is here and now yet not fully realized. It starts like a small mustard seed planted in the heart. And if it is watered and nurtured and is open to the graces offered it grows into something great. We are all called to grow this Kingdom by how we live, by how we act, by how we share, by how we give, by how we love…I once heard it said, “We are not here to count the days, we are here to make the days count.” Make your days count by living the Kingdom of God and by growing the Kingdom of God. With all our mustard seeds together we can have a powerful effect. At the end of the Dedication Mass a couple Thursdays ago Fr. Ken was giving his thanksgiving message to the community in both English and Spanish. He was saying we as a community have accomplished all this. And out of nowhere Bishop McElroy yelled out in Spanish, “Si se puede!” (Yes we can!) Yes we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit and all of us working together we can make a difference!...May we walk by faith not by sight and bear fruit in abundance through the way we live our lives. During this season of growth may we flourish like the majestic cedar and the mustard tree for all in the world to see for the glory of God. Si se puede! Yes we can!