Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 17: 22-24
II Corinthians 5:6-10
Mark 4: 26-34
What is the greatest thing in your life? Every time Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, which he does today, he is asking, “What is the greatest thing in your life?” So if the greatest thing is in your life is not your faith in Jesus Christ, we need to move to make it the greatest thing in our lives.
To set the parables in context for us, the people in the time that the Gospel writer Mark wrote had a lot going on to make their faith the greatest thing in their lives. The Christian community left their Jewish faith and believed in Jesus because they firmly believed that the Kingdom of God was coming any day. But what begins to happen is some of them are persecuted, and others are killed, and they begin to wonder, “Have we backed the wrong horse?” At this point, they are not sure that their faith in Jesus is the greatest thing in their lives.
In our Gospel, we hear two parables that talk about the Kingdom of God and making it the greatest gift in our lives. The first parable is about a farmer who plants seeds on his property. He is not a perfectionist, and he is not a control freak because he sits back, and when the harvest is ready, he harvests his crop.
What are we to take from this? The farmer trusts that the seed will do what it is intended to do, which is to grow. The farmer trusts the soil is suitable for planting, and he trusts that there will be enough nutrients in the soil and enough rain to grow his seeds. He never gives the illusion that he is in charge, but he trusts that all will be well in the end. Our first lesson is trusting in God that he is working in our lives, if we can feel him or not.
In the second parable, we hear about a small mustard seed planted in the ground, and it grows to a big bush that birds of the air come to rest in its branches. We need to understand that this parable is a mustard bush is a prolific weed, and once it gets into a garden, it is tough to eradicate. The second lesson is for us to allow the Kingdom of God to be planted in us like a pesky weed that grows anywhere!
The other part of this second parable is the birds that come and rests in the branches. No farmer would invite birds to their fields because birds eat what was planted. The third lesson for us is to allow the pesky birds in our lives to come and land in our branches. We need to welcome everyone into our lives. Our garden of life is not about productivity but hospitality!
My friends in Christ, “What is the greatest thing in your life?” May we listen, trust, and be obedient to God even when we do not see him or hear him.