The 11th Sunday of the Year
Ez 17:22-24; Ps 92; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mk 4:26-34 (Year B)
The prophet Ezekiel brought a message of hope to a desperate people. When Jerusalem had been destroyed and its citizens deported to Babylon, he promised a new beginning. He likened a broken Israel to a despoiled forest. A nation that lay in ruins would be planted afresh: “I will take a shoot and plant it myself on a very high mountain. I will plant it on the high mountain of Israel. It will sprout branches and bear fruit and become a noble cedar.”
In our journey through life we shall experience what it is to be broken, to feel that hope is slipping away. Such was the experience of Israel’s exiles as they reflected on the infidelity that had brought them to this disaster. Now the prophet Ezekiel promised a new beginning, a replanting that would demonstrate God’s power to save. “And every tree of the field will learn that I, the Lord, am the one who stunts tall trees and makes the low ones grow, who withers green trees and makes the withered green.” To a repentant people, the prophet Ezekiel promised a glorious replanting.
Like Ezekiel, Jesus described the power of his kingdom through parables taken from nature. “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how he does not know.”
The parable of the hidden seed, as is the case with many parables, is open to many interpretations. At one level it is surely an invitation to patience and trust. The seed hidden in the ground shows few signs of activity in its early development. There are many times when we crave the reassurance of God’s presence, a presence that seems hidden from us.
Jesus invited the trust of his disciples in his description of the hidden seed “that produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear”. The parable of the mustard seed proclaims the same hope. Outwardly it is the tiniest of seeds, and yet it carries within itself the potential to become a mighty shrub. Such is the power of God’s hidden presence in the world and in the hearts of his faithful.
Like those first disciples, we will frequently face a world indifferent to God’s presence and the Good News of the Gospel. Rather than losing heart, we should trust in a loving presence whose hidden power is able to transform ourselves and our world.
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