June 13, 2021 ~ 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time
On this Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, the liturgy presents us with two parables: the parable of the seed that grows of its own accord and the parable of the mustard seed. With agricultural images, the Lord presents the mystery of the Word and of the Kingdom of God and offers us hope.
In the first parable the focus is on the dynamism of the sowing: the seed that was scattered on the land sprouts and grows by itself, whether the farmer is awake or asleep. The man sows with the trust that his work will not be fruitless. What supports the farmer in his daily efforts is trust in the power of the seed and in the goodness of the soil. This parable recalls the mysteries of the creation and of redemption, of God’s fertile work in history. It is He who is the Lord of the Kingdom; men and women are God’s humble collaborators who contemplate and rejoice in the divine creative action and patiently await its fruits. The final harvest makes us think of God’s conclusive intervention at the end of time. The present is the time of sowing, and the growth of the seed is assured by the Lord. Every Christian therefore knows well that he must do all he can, but that the final result depends on God: this awareness sustains him in his daily efforts, especially in difficult situations. St Ignatius of Loyola wrote in this regard: “Act as though everything depended on you, but in the knowledge that really everything depends on God.”
The second parable also uses the image of the seed, but it is a specific seed: the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds. Even though it is so tiny, it is full of life; it breaks open to give life to a sprout that can break through the ground, coming out into the sunlight and growing until it becomes “the greatest of all shrubs”. The seed’s weakness is its strength; its breaking open is its power. Thus is the Kingdom of God: a humanly small reality, made up of those who are meek and humble of heart, of those who do not rely on their own power but on that of the love of God. It is through them that Christ’s power bursts in and transforms what is seemingly insignificant.
The image of the seed is especially dear to Jesus, because it clearly expresses the mystery of the Kingdom of God. In today’s two parables it represents “growth” and “contrast:” the growth that occurs thanks to an innate dynamism within the seed itself and the contrast that exists between the minuscule size of the seed and the greatness of what it produces.
The message is clear: even though the Kingdom of God demands our collaboration, it is first and foremost a gift of the Lord, a grace that precedes the person and his or her works. We are not Pelagians, nor are we like those who tried to build the Tower of Babel to “make a name for themselves.” If our own small strength, apparently powerless in the face of the world’s problems, is inserted in that of God, it fears no obstacles because the Lord’s victory is guaranteed. It is the miracle of the love of God who causes every seed of good that is scattered on the ground to germinate. The experience of this miracle of love makes us optimists, in spite of the difficulty, suffering and evil. The seed sprouts and grows because God’s love makes it grow.
Consider the Blessed Virgin Mary. She described herself as the lowly handmaid of the Lord, yet through faith, her womb was fruitful, and she became the Mother of the Redeemer and the Queen of Creation. Consider Saint Joseph; he was a simple carpenter who became the Guardian of the Redeemer and the patron of the Universal Church. If God could do great things in them, why could he not do great things in you?
Next weekend, I will be away with our Youth Group attending the Conference in Steubenville. Pray that this will be a life-giving and faith-enriching experience. Pray for me too – that I survive!!! 😊
– Fr. Fernandes