Read Ezekiel 17:22-24, Psalm 92:1-14, 2nd Corinthians 5:6-10, Mark 4:26-34
“The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.” (Mark 4:26-27)
Our readings today are right at the heart of our current liturgical season: the season of Ordinary Time. As you have noticed, the major colour of vestments and other liturgical items during this season is GREEN. And what does green symbolize? Vegetation, Growth, Fertility, Improvement etc. Green is the colour of trees, the colour of grass, the colour of most plants and the farm in general.
In today’s first reading, Ezekiel uses words that are related to planting and vegetation; sprig, cedar, twigs, fruit, branches, boughs, low tree, high tree, dry tree, green tree, flourish etc. Coming to our Gospel passage, Jesus speaks about scattering seeds, spouting and growing, the blade, the ear, the full-grain, the ripe grain, harvest, the mustard seed, shrub, large branches and so on.
There are indeed so many lessons contained in our readings and in our liturgical season but we shall outline a few:
1. The Season of Ordinary Time is a season of Growth.
It would be a contradiction that we are wearing green while there is no significant growth in our relationship with God. Recall how Jesus was attracted to a fig tree with leaves only for him to go close to the tree and did not find any young fruit sprouting on it? Between now and the next liturgical season Advent, which begins in November, there should be growth and improvement in our spiritual lives.
2. God’s Kingdom is not complicated or difficult to understand.
Jesus gave this parable to show that God’s kingdom operates on principles very similar to what we see happen in our farms and gardens every day. God’s kingdom is alive.
3. God’s kingdom begins with a seed the Word of God.
Outwardly, the seed may look small and insignificant but by the time the Word is fully mature, its true nature and power is manifested. But this seed has to be planted in order to grow. We must let God’s Word take roots in our hearts by constantly reading it. As Moses admonished Joshua: “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.” (Joshua 1:8).
4. God is the one responsible for Growth.
One question many have asked is: “How does reading the Bible make me prosperous and successful?” Jesus tells us that a man scatters seed on the ground and goes to sleep only to see the seed growing. How this happens, he does not know. In other words, it is not for us to know how the Word works in our lives, all we have to do is to actually scatter the seed and let God do the rest.
5. Do not be discouraged by little beginnings.
The mustard seed is one of the smallest type of seeds, so small it became the yardstick for describing smallness. Jesus once used the mustard seed to describe how little our faith needs to be in order for our prayers to be effective. In this context, he used the mustard seed to describe how little the kingdom of God may appear at the beginning. We do not become saints overnight. A tree does not mature overnight. It takes time. Growth happens step by step, we may not see progress but we know something is happening.
This is where our second reading today comes in. St. Paul says: “we walk by faith, not by sight, therefore, we are of good courage.” Two great virtues we learn from experienced farmers is PATIENCE and HOPE. A farmer sets out to work long before he even sees the rains, he knows that harvest time is not the same as planting time but in between, he simply waits! Farming teaches us to wait. Christians today must learn to wait for God. We walk by faith, not by sight. We may not get quick answers but we know our prayers are never in vain.
6. The birds of the air only come to take shade under the branches of the mature tree.
What do these birds represent? Firstly, the world, that is, all of mankind, even unbelievers come to benefit from our growth in spirit. Secondly, the evil ones. In another parable, Jesus tells us how the birds of the air come to steal the seed that falls on the path. This means we must always be on our guard because our enemy the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy when we have established ourselves in God. There comes a time when prayers become difficult, boring and sparse. Those are moments we must not allow these birds of the air to take away our fruits.
7. There is surely a day of harvest.
There is surely a time to reap the fruits of the tree when it is fully grown. Harvest time comes at the end of our lives when we shall all be called upon to give an account of what we did with our time on earth. There is surely a day of judgement. We are free to make our everyday choices but we are not free from the consequences of our actions or inactions.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may my time on earth be fruitful and according to your own will and pleasure. Amen.
Happy Sunday. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you.
(11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. Bible Study: Ezekiel 17:22-24, Psalm 92:1-14, 2nd Corinthians 5:6-10, Mark 4:26-34).