IT'S ALL I HAVE. IT'S ALL I WANT
ELEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - B
Ez 17:22-24; Psalm 92; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mk 4:26-34
When I read and reflect on the readings for the week, I like to firstly see why the liturgists of the Church chose these particular passages to group them for this Sunday’s readings. I especially take notice of the relationship between the first Old Testament reading and the Gospel reading, because as the Church teaches, the Old prefigures the New, and the New fulfills or makes manifest the Old. In that case, did everyone catch what the relationship was between the two readings? It is the idea of taking something small, cultivating, and turning it into something great!
In the first reading, we read that God will take a tender shoot, which is a small branch or young branch, from an old and mighty cedar, plant it on a mountain, cultivate it, and then it will become a majestic cedar where the birds and all winged creatures will seek shade and refuge under it. In the Gospel reading, the mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, when planted becomes a big tree where the birds can take refuge and rest. So, in the first reading, this tender shoot is supposed to be Jesus who is taken from this great tree of the Davidic lineage or family tree. Jesus was not born a great king, even though he was. He was born to a carpenter and in a manger. Although, as the Son of God, He is exalted and is truly a King. Likewise, then, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a small mustard seed. So, with these small things, we never pay much attention to them. But, they are important. What else in Scripture do we read is like a mustard seed, or small like a mustard seed?
FAITH! These two things that are incidentally small, with proper TLC, tender loving care, become great things…. The Kingdom of Heaven, for us here, starts off small, but it is through the waters of our faith and our good works, that we cultivate this seed and then it becomes a great plant that yields great branches that provide shade and refuge to other animals. This little grain of mustard seed we call faith, has the power to move mountains! Ultimately, this also ties into the second reading, which contains a line that we hear quite often: That we are to walk by faith and not by sight. I think this applies so much more to us, as disciples of Jesus in latter times. For us, in this age of science and technology, we cannot see this place called Heaven. We can’t visually see Jesus, Mary, the saints, and others. For us, the rewards of Heaven are truly something small and miniscule…. That we can easily forget, ignore, discount, and cast away. But Scripture tells us that we must have faith. It is faith that nurtures and cultivates this seed, so that when the time comes, God willing by our faith and adherence to a Christian life, we will be presented the fruits of our labor, this great tree called Heaven. That’s why, I think for us, it is so much harder to be disciples of Christ. Just think, even those disciples who walked with, ate with, lived with, spoke with Christ, when He had resurrected from the dead, did not believe that He was Risen and even asked for a sign. Even visually seeing the Lord, they did not believe. But we, almost 2000 years removed from the Resurrection are asked to not walk by sight, but by faith… that’s a high order!
However, it is a high order, but not an impossible order. Because all that is required to grow this great tree, the Kingdom of Heaven, is faith… which itself, sometimes is small like a mustard seed. And, it’s all that God is requiring of us. And, given that all of you choose to come and participate and partake in this most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Sunday after Sunday, that also shows that you all already walk in faith. Why? When the priest confects the Holy Eucharist, by faith, we believe that the bread and wine become the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Does that mean upon consecration, we have a bloody piece of flesh on the paten or a cup of blood here before us? Not at all. But it only because our eyes of faith see and believe that these elements have become Jesus, that we come and partake in the Supper of the Lamb. If we did not have faith and our eyes of faith were shut, I am pretty sure everyone would be somewhere else and doing something else right now. I’m sure everyone has seen this picture. This is all that Jesus wants from us. Faith. Which is sometimes as small as a mustard seed, yet can move mountains. And as we walk in faith, we water and cultivate this seed that will blossom and grow into a tree that is the Kingdom of Heaven. Everyone here is part of a community right now that walks in faith together. Continue this journey together and always lift each other up. A very important part of parish life is to always be on the lookout for each other. When one member of the community seems to be wobbling a bit, shaking in faith, everyone comes in to help him or her regain stability. This is what the community does. All glory and praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Bp. Robert Chun