Planted by God

June 13,2021 The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B)

The tie in between today’s readings: The Lord’s harvest

Psalm 92:2-3;13-16, Ezekiel17:22-24, 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, Mark 4:26-34

Things were really looking bad for the nation of Judah. Generation after generation of kings and peasants ignored the pleading of Jehovah’s prophet to repent from sin and idolatry. There was nothing left for the Lord to do but bring His wayward people into judgement under the heel of Nebuchadnezzar. Blood flowed freely and drenched the war-scarred landscape. The royal house of David was swept away along with the rest of the population into Babylon. As they endured their exile it seemed like the end of everything, but God was not done with His people. In today’s reading in Ezekiel 17:22-24, the Lord’s prophet tells them of a coming hope. The Almighty, Himself, promises to plant a sprig from David’s kingly line on a high mountain in Israel and create a new nation so miraculous and so different that the world will marvel. This sprig will grow into a stately cedar and birds of every kind will nest in the shade of its branches. In our parallel gospel reading in Mark 4:30-32, Jesus teaches the historic “Mustard Seed” parable and flashes us back to this phenomenal realm for us to realize that it is none other than the Kingdom of God.

The well-known parable of the “Mustard Seed” shows us the macro view of Christianity’s growth throughout the world. But, let us also keep in mind that God’s Kingdom, the Church, is made up of individuals.  The parable of “The Seed” in today’s reading in Mark 4:26-29 provides an insight into this aspect of God’s domain. These few verses give an almost matter-of-fact visual on what happened to the seeds that fell on the good ground in Jesus’ preceding parable about the “Four Soils” in Mark 4:1-20. After casting the seeds, the farmer watches them throughout the season. Clueless as to how it happens, he sees them sprout, then grow into blades, the head comes next, and finally the grain. You need to read between the lines or you’ll miss the Lord’s mysterious workings in this parable. Although not mentioned, a lot happens to these seeds during their development. They face floods, droughts, insects, disease, and weeds planted by an adversary illustrated in yet another gospel (Matthew 13:24-30). It’s a wonder they make it to maturity at all! It’s entirely God’s protecting and guiding hand that brings each of these little ones through. Now, you can see that this is really a parable about each of us. In our Christian walk, the promised Holy Spirit abides with us so that we can grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and bears spiritual fruit in our lives as defined in Galatians 5:22-23. In God, we live and move and have our being for His praise and glory. Finally, once the challenges of this world have been met and the crop of our lives produced, it’s time for the harvest.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Let’s face it, the sickle will swing for all of us one day. But, when you stop and think about it, the whole purpose of growing a crop is the harvest. In today’s reading in 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, the Apostle Paul gives us a balanced view between life here on earth and our eternal life in heaven. His first words of wisdom: Don’t be afraid! Absent from the body means to be present with the Lord. This is not only a good thing…it’s the preferred thing. Paul follows up with this directive: whether we are here walking by faith or there seeing God face to face, our goal is to always be pleasing to Him. Please Him here in your present life and you will please Him there when you stand before Him in judgement. Never forget that we must all give an account for the good and bad that we have done. May we have a good harvest to present to our Master and not stand before Him ashamed and empty handed.

For now, let us praise our God just as the writer of today’s reading in Psalm 92 does. Our Father has been and will always be faithful to us. The Lord’s loving kindness will never be taken away. We, who are the wheat of His field and the vines in His vineyard are the apple of His eye. With our planting He has given us everything we need to flourish and produce the fruit of His Spirit in our lives even to our old age. Let us, in return, be faithful to our calling in Christ until He calls us home. With an eternal perspective in mind, never forget that we are all part of the bigger picture of the Kingdom of God. Fruit bearing is a very sobering business. The smile or the scowl of the Savior awaits us. So, stay busy for the Lord, good and faithful servant. Drive those roots deep down into the things of God, reach upward…and keep growing, my friend.

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