Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection June 16, 2024


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R/. It is good to give thanks to you, O Lord.

V/. Alleluia

R/. Alleluia

V/. . The seed is the word of God, the sower is Christ all who come to him will live for ever.

R/. Alleluia.

At that time: Jesus said to the crowds, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

1.      Growth and fruition can be the underlying theme of today’s Word of God. The first reading from Ezekiel speaks of God who plants a cedar tree and makes it grow and bear fruit. The cedar tree is symbolic of David’s kingdom. God promises to restore this after the exile. “I myself will take the shoot from the top and I will plant it upon a high and lofty mountain”. This is a prophecy about its restoration.

2.      It is God who makes this happen. Everything is in His control. This is clearly indicated by His own words: “I the Lord bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish”.

3.      However, it is not merely restoring the old Davidic kingdom. It is in fact the fulfilment of it in the kingdom of Christ. This is what St Paul indicates in the second reading from his 2nd letter to the Corinthians. We are destined to be with the Lord, to be at home with the Lord, that is, in the eternal home of his kingdom. Accordingly, to please God becomes the sole norm. This alone makes us worthy to stand before his judgment seat and to be admitted into his kingdom.

4.      The gospel continues the same theme of growth and fruition in terms of the kingdom. Some more features are specified and underlined. First of all, the growth of the kingdom does not depend merely on human factors or efforts. It is just like a seed. Practically, a man may take all the possible care but essentially it is God who gives the growth and fruit. It is God who puts life and the nature of growth and fruition into it. Secondly, growth and fruition is a progressive process and not sudden happening.

5.      This is what is indicated by Jesus’ words when he says, ‘The seed should sprout and grow, the man knows not how’. ‘The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear, and then the grain is ripe for harvest’. Thirdly, growth and fruition is a humble process, with small beginnings. This is similar to the growth of a mustard seed. It is so small when planted. But when it grows, it becomes so big as to give shelter to many birds.

6.      Therefore, the message of Jesus is very clear. Our destiny is the kingdom and our efforts are to be for its growth and fruition. We need not expect this in big ways, by extraordinary means. It consists of small ways and humble beginnings. Ultimately, it is in God’s hands. It is He who gives it growth and brings it to fulfilment.

7.      However, this should not lead one into passivity or inactivity or indifferent fatalism. With humility, we must realize our smallness and unworthiness. With gratitude, we must be thankful to God and to others for all the good we receive and enjoy. With docility, we must be open and receptive to God’s grace. With a sense of dutifulness, we must do our part, plant the seed and give all the due care. With patience, we must avoid all needless anxiety but wait on in the hope of the harvest. With surrender, we must depend on Him and entrust ourselves to His will and ways. With deep love and passion for Him, we must constantly strive to please Him. With focus and direction, we must orient every step and effort of our life toward the kingdom of heaven. With consistency and perseverance, we must travel a progressive journey of sanctity and fidelity. With sincere benevolence and charity, we must try to make ourselves beneficial to others, giving shelter to many, just like the mustard seed.

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