Fr Vincent's reflections on the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021

Jesus spoke in parables so the people could learn deeper truths.  Today, we hear the famous parable of the mustard seed.  Though we have heard the parable before, are YOU ready to learn a deeper and more challenging truth about your relationship with God?

 

Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021

 

Read the script below:

 

11th Sunday – Ordinary Time                    (June 13, 2021)

 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.                     R/.  Amen.

 

The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

                                  R/.  And with your spirit.

 

On this 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, let us pray:

 

             O God, strength of those who hope in you,

             graciously hear our pleas,

             and, since without you mortal frailty can do nothing,

             grant us always the help of your grace

                   that in following your commands

                   we may please you by our resolve and our deeds.

             Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

             who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

             God, for ever and ever.                           R/.  Amen.

 

Please pause this video and retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.

The Gospel today is Mark 4:26 - 35.

 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

 

      Jesus said to the crowds:

         “This is how it is with the kingdom of God;

         it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land

         and would sleep and rise night and day

         and the seed would sprout and grow,

         he knows not how.

      Of its own accord the land yields fruit,

         first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.

      And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,

         for the harvest has come.”

 

      He said,

         “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,

         or what parable can we use for it?

      It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,

         is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.

      But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants

         and puts forth large branches,

         so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

      With many such parables

         he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.

      Without parables he did not speak to them,

         but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

 

The Gospel of the Lord.       R/.  Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Our Opening Prayer today admits that without God “mortal frailty can do nothing.”  While you and I know this to be true – we are by nature weak and unable to do everything that needs to be done, or even to do it the correct way much of the time – you and I are still tempted to “do it myself,” more times than I care to count!  It seems to take a lot for us to humble ourselves into a position of acknowledging our need for help.  So the Opening Prayer wants us to face head-on this human condition and prayerfully acknowledge our dependence on God.  So, to get us into the correct “frame of heart,” let’s repeat that Prayer so we can better receive the message of the Gospel today:

             O God, strength of those who hope in you,

             graciously hear our pleas,

             and, since without you mortal frailty can do nothing,

             grant us always the help of your grace

             that in following your commands

             we may please you by our resolve and our deeds.

You see, for us truly to hear with our hearts the parables of Jesus, we must be aware of our inability to know everything and do everything for ourselves.  Parables expect us to confront our human condition of needing to be guided and cared for; they find us where we are and take us where we don’t expect to go.  Let me explain with today’s Gospel.

We know how to plant seeds, and we know what we hope will happen when seeds are planted – they grow into the plants, fruits, vegetables we want.  But even if we control the labor of farming and know the science around it, something beyond us causes the growth and produces the fruitfulness of the plants.  We hope for the best, but we do not control it.  We cannot force the best to happen every time; that is beyond our control no matter how much we plan and do.

So the parable tells us:  you know how to do your part, (that is “finding us where we are”), but don’t be fooled into thinking you are completely in charge, (this is “taking us where we don’t expect”).  So, as Mark says, Jesus used parables to help people learn a greater truth they did not always realize or want to admit.

Once Jesus gets them to realize, “yes, there is someone in control of life beyond me,” then Jesus can introduce the truth of the Kingdom of God.  We have the famous parable of the mustard seed.  You and I know it so well, we need to step back in our hearts and realize like the original audience of Jesus: “we don’t know as much as we think, and we are not so completely in control, either!”

Are you ready to “go where you don’t expect?”  You know that the mustard seed symbolizes the “faith” God plants within the world and within each individual through Jesus.  You know that the expectation is that this “seed of faith” will grow and become wonderfully large and impressive.  But, too many people stop there and take for granted that if they have faith, it will naturally result in growing into a member of the Kingdom of God.  These people take control away from God by “controlling” their own lives, basically by ignoring all that God needs to do in their lives and failing to cooperate with God’s control.

The same way the farmer does his part and God does His part to produce a bountiful harvest, when it comes to growing in faith, we must do our part and allow God to do His part.  First we must acknowledge that from start to finish, God is in charge: He plants the seed, and He guides its growth and fruitfulness.  We must be attentive to God and obey His directions.  We don’t know it all, and we cannot produce the results without God’s intervention.  This is the “go where you don’t expect:” surrender to God’s control and do all that He expects.  Mark puts the parable of the mustard seed near the beginning of the Gospel so that all the teachings of Jesus which follow are to show how we cooperate with God.  There is a lot to learn and there is a lot to do, and most of it will not be exactly what we want, but if we hope to become fruitful members of God’s Kingdom, then we need to be ready to go where we don’t expect.  God gives us the grace to follow His commands and please Him in resolve and deed.

 

God bless!

 

And now, the final blessing.

 

             The Lord be with you.                                                       R/.  And with your spirit.

 

             May the blessing of almighty God,

             the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,

             come down on you and remain with you for ever.            R/.  Amen.