HOMILY FOR 11TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY FOR 11TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
First Reading: Ez 17:22-24, Ps 92, Second Reading 2 Cor 5:6-10 Gospel Reading: Mark 4:26-34
THE KINGDOM OF GOD DEVELOPS GRADUALLY LIKE A SEED
Today, 13th June, 2021, is the 11th Sunday in ordinary time according to our liturgical calendar. The liturgy of the Word today imparts to us that the reign of God is a reality that commences slowly with humble beginnings but later grows into something huge accommodating every living soul. But for us to attain, enjoy and have its glimpse, we need to be courageous and endure in our faith as we are waiting for our reward on the last day.
Parables are rhetorical and belong to the broad class of literature called rhetoric. In ancient Greece and Rome great men employed parables in their speeches. For instance, rhetoricians, politicians and philosophers made use of parables to explain reality. The most illustrious among those who made use of them were Socrates and Aristotle. In Israel, parables were also uttered by prophets and wise women and men. The parables also appear in the oldest books of the Old Testament and were used by the Jewish rabbis who were the contemporaries of Jesus.
The term parable designates a proverb or a wise saying or a symbolic and figurative speech or a story as contained in the Bible. The purpose of the parable is not only for a mere entertainment but also to convince, persuade and bring about a change of mind, or better a change of heart in the hearer to conversion. Its message is radical and is not easily ignored. The hearers of the parable can hardly remain neutral for they must either act or fail to act on the lesson of the parable.
Today in the Gospel, Jesus, the great teacher and professor of faith employs a parable to elucidate the reign of the Kingdom of God. But what does the Kingdom of God mean? What do we imply when we say the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God means God’s presence, God offering to us His life, God’s love, God wanting to come more and more in our life.
The parable that Jesus Christ has used today is in two phases. The first phase speaks of the growing seed which after being planted by the farmer sprouts and grows to produce the ripe wheat for harvest. However, this occurs at the ignorance of the farmer who even doesn’t know what happens to the seed for it to produce a harvest. This first phase of the parable refers to God’s Kingdom which is planted in us by Christ but through the grace of God mysteriously grows and spreads throughout the world to yield a harvest of souls. It means that God’s life in us is like a seed which is small, looks weak and does not look alive. But when given what it needs, it grows and bears fruit.
The second phase talks of the mustard seed. This seed is the smallest of all but when planted it grows up and becomes a very large plant like a shrub with branches large enough for birds to nest in its shade. This phase of the parable represents the slow, largely unseen but ineluctable growth of the reign of God among humanity. It also designates that the Kingdom of God proclaimed by Christ is like the renewed Israel, the Christian community the place where all of us will find refuge from sin and worldliness.
Any seed and in particular mustard seed is a hardy plant but tends to germinate rapidly and takes over a garden. This signifies that the Kingdom of God is both hardy and intrusive. Like the seed, the Kingdom of God grows gradually and sometimes it might even delay too much to develop to the extent that some of us begin to get despaired. However, as farmers (Christians) waiting for our harvest (Kingdom of God) we must be patient and never give up in doing good things and practicing our Christianity. Apart from that, we must also play our role in ensuring that this kingdom of God is made a public knowledge to all, so that all of us should receive our good reward on the last day, as each one of us will be rewarded depending on how we lived on earth.
As we are playing our part in the growth of the kingdom God, we will of course encounter problems like persecutions, imprisonment, hatred, sickness, hardships and struggles involving temptations and sufferings. However, we must fight to the best of our ability until the end. Therefore, we are all invited to develop some sort of endurance in our daily lives like the courageous attitude of the martyrs. And to foster this perseverance we are all invited to play our part by rousing one another to love, encouraging one another, sharing other people’s hardships and imitating Christ as the model of endurance in our trials.
Happy Sunday to you all!
By: Rev. Deacon Stanford Sungani