11th Sunday of the Year, B – June 13, 2021.
Readings: Ezekiel 17:22-24; Ps 92:1-2.12-13.14-15(R.1a); 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Gospel – Mark 4:26-34.
Theme: Living for Others!
The first reading reveals that God would plant a shoot on a very high mountain. In the second reading, St. Paul assures that we live by faith and not by sight and charges Christians to be exiled from the flesh towards desiring to please. Based on the Parables of the Seed and Mustard Seed, the gospel charges Christians to open their lives to the promptings of the spirit so that the Seed spoken about in the two parables as the Word of God which is planted in their hearts by God is able to transform their lives so as to transform the lives of others.
Beloved in Christ, our liturgy presents us with the parables of Jesus. The gospel particularly mentions that “using many parables like these [those mentioned in the gospel], he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it.” Our reflection titled, “Living for Others” explores the depth of our liturgical readings with a view to finding the requisite pastoral lessons.
Background and Summary of the Readings
The first reading (Ezekiel 17:22-24) reveals that God would plant a shoot on a very high mountain. The tree is meant to sprout branches, bear fruit and become a noble cedar with broad branches where the birds of the air would find shelter. It presents a contrast between Nebuchadnezzar who “cuts off” and God who “sets up” the topshoot. The highest branch of the cedar is a prophecy about the expected messiah from the royal house of David.
In the second reading (2 Corinthians 5:6-10), St. Paul assures that we live by faith and not by sight. He charges Christians to be exiled from the flesh and develop an ardent desire to please God. It indicates that we would give account of our lives before God based on the good or bad we did while the body. The reading presents the tension that exists between the desires of the flesh and the demands of the spirit but assures that our confidence lies in doing the will of God.
The gospel (Mark 4:26-34) highlights two parables presented by Jesus – The Parable of the Seed that gradually grows in the night from a shoot, to an ear, then a full grain leading to harvest time. The second parable is the Proverbial Mustard Seed which is the smallest of all the seeds on earth but once it is sown, it grows into the biggest shrub of all and puts out branches where the birds of the air find shelter in its branches.
In the two parables, the Seed is the word of God in the heart of a Christian and the planter is God. The field is the world. The Word starts in the heart of the believer as a small seed but if nurtured, it grows into a big shrub where others, like birds are drawn to find peace as well as material and spiritual help.
1. Impregnate the World with Christian Values: The message of the first reading that “the tree will sprout branches, bear fruit and become a noble cedar” indicates that believers have the noble task of impregnating the world with Christian values by living holy lives and being the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Cf. Matthew 5:13 & John 8:12).
2. Cut Off Every Nebuchadnezzar: Christians are challenged to cut off every Nebuchadnezzar in their lives which kills the spiritual life towards aligning with God who “sets up” new “topshoots” in their lives.
3. Change the World: As of old, God has planted the Christian in the world as a shoot on a very high mountain to change the world in terms of administering justice and ensuring equitable distribution of resources.
4.Be Exiled from the Flesh: Since we are told that a seeming tension exists between the desires of the flesh and the demands of the spirit, we are challenged to be exiled from the flesh so as to desire doing the will of God bearing in mind that we will give account of our lives before the righteous judge.
5.Endure the Qualms of this Life: The Parable of the Seed that gradually grows in the night from a shoot, to an ear, into a full grain leading to harvest time, teaches us about patience and endurance with the qualms of this life so as to inherit eternal life.
6.Be Humble, Help Others: While the Parable of the Mustard Seed reminds the Christian that humble beginnings can end in great ways, the gospel challenges us on the need to live for others as epitomised by Christ who laid down his life for his flock.
1.The first reading reveals that God would plant a shoot on a very high mountain.
2. In the second reading, St. Paul assures that we live by faith and not by sight.
3. He charges Christians to be exiled from the flesh and develop an ardent desire to please God.
4.The Proverbial Mustard Seed which is the smallest of all the seeds on earth but once it is sown, it grows into the biggest shrub of all.
5, In the two parables, the Seed is the word of God in the heart of a Christian and the planter is God.
Our liturgy urges the Christian to live for others as this is an imperative for true Christian witnessing. Jesus gives his life as a ransom for many and charges us to do same. Our liturgy gives us a clue to achieving this feat namely making concerted efforts at being exiled from the flesh to live the life of the spirit. Since our readings demonstrate that we can only do our best and leave the rest for God, we must be patient towards reaching our heavenly goal. May God help us to live our lives to the full so as to inherit eternal life. Amen!
NB: Kindly pray for Rev. Frs. Maurice Matthias, Magnus Yatai, Linus Thliza, Henry Dabang, Iliya Benu, Hilary Longs, Kefas Kusni and Justine Dyikuk as we mark our 12 years of faithful service to God as Catholic Priests tommorow 13th June, 2021. St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us!