First Reading: Ezekiel 17: 22 – 24
Responsorial Psalm 92
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5: 6 – 10
Gospel: Mark 4: 26 – 34
God will go gardening! That is what God says through the prophet Ezekiel in our first reading today
(Ezek 17:22-24) God will take a twig from the top of a cedar tree and plant it on a high mountain
where it will become a tall tree, and all kinds of animals will live under it, and all kinds of birds will
nest in it. Of course, God is talking in a parable through the prophet Ezekiel. There will be a tree that
will give shelter to all. What might that be? We find the answer in the second parable in the Gospel
today (Mark 4:30-32). Jesus asked what the kingdom of God is like. It is like the small mustard seed
which is sown and becomes a large plant where birds can take shade in its branches. Jesus is talking
about the kingdom of God. So, the twig that God promised through Ezekiel to plant in the future, is
the kingdom of God preached by Jesus, and planted by Jesus during his public ministry, and since
then has been growing and growing. The mustard seed is such a tiny seed, but it has the ability to
grow into a huge plant very quickly. The kingdom of God might seem fragile when looking at the
reaction of people to Jesus and the many who did not accept him, but from its small beginnings in
Jesus’ ministry, his kingdom will grow and grow.
There is a place for everyone in Jesus’ kingdom. In the first reading, all kinds of animals were
sheltering under the cedar tree and every bird in the shade of its branches, and in the Gospel, birds
were dwelling in the branches in the shade of the mustard tree. There is a place for everyone in Jesus’
kingdom. Jesus does not want anyone outside of his kingdom. Jesus does not want any sheep outside
the sheepfold. There is a beautiful but sad saying of Jesus which we never hear in a Sunday Gospel,
“Jerusalem…how many times have I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her
brood under her wings, but you were unwilling.” (Matt 23:37; Luke 13:34) Either in real life or in
nature documentaries, we have seen mother birds gathering their chicks together under their wings.
Jesus wanted Jerusalem under his wing, so to speak; he wanted Jerusalem safely, warmly and snug in
his kingdom. We know what happened. They chose Barabbas instead of Jesus. Jesus wants everyone
now safely in his kingdom. He “yearns” for this, to quote him. “Name of town, how many times I
have yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” The Lord
is always waiting for us. The branches of his tree are always wide enough to give us shade.
Another way to say this is that Jesus wants to hold everyone in his love, under the branches of his
love, under the wings of his love. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, prays that everyone come to
know the love of Christ. This is how his prayer goes:
Jesus spent a lot of time speaking to people who lived directly off the land. He often used images
familiar to them – of a farmer (sower) farming, or seed growing. Anyone who works with seed
knows that the virtue of the farmer is patience. The sower knows that he has to wait; the process
demands that he wait upon the weather, the working of the soil, the slow thrust of life, before he can
see the fruit of his labour. There is a time of work, of hazard, of slow emergence.” There is clue to
living happily here and it is about the pace of things
In our effort to reach our destination we can lose sight of the fact that most of our lives are lived
getting there. The journey is what life is all about and so the pace of the journey and what we learn
from it actually matters.
The sower understands that sowing, waiting, and harvesting are all part of it. Part of the joy of eating
is the hunger that precedes it. Part of the joy of success is the struggle to achieve it. There are no
short cuts, quick fixes, or fast tracks to help us jump the queue. If we want to get the most from our
lives we have got to learn to appreciate what it means to wait, and to slow down. The alternative is a
fast journey to becoming lost to ourselves As Blaise Pascal puts it, “ By means of a diversion, a man
can avoid his own company”. Have you met yourself recently?
The Apostle Paul says, ‘Walk by faith and not by sight’. Walking by faith and walking by sight are
two opposite ways of living.
When a person walks by sight, then He does not walk in reference to God. He will make his own
manipulative calculations and does everything according to his own will. He gives more priority to
what he feels than what is right. He does not think beyond his time on earth. God will leave him to
fight his own battles.
But when a person walks by faith, He tries to reference God in everything He does. Even if he feels
that he may not win in the world by doing the right thing, He will still do the right thing. (Because He
has the faith that his Father in Heaven will take care of him). He will search for the right action to be
taken w.r.t. God’s word and will follow the little voice of the Holy Spirit.
There is a strong battle in our lives whenever we make decisions – whether to take a decision by
Faith or to take a decision by Sight (our feelings). Feelings can mislead us and they can steal our
faith. They change constantly. We can have a change in our feelings about the same person or
incident multiple times per week. If we throw out words based on how we feel, it is hard to
compensate for them. We should rise beyond our feelings and walk by faith. A practical way of
taking any decision is to pray, refer to the word of God or follow the little voice of the Holy Spirit,
rather than deciding by how we feel.
What is the “Kingdom of God”?
There are kings in this world who rule their respective nations. Similarly, Christ is our King, seated in
our hearts. The ‘Kingdom of God’ dwells in our hearts. Whoever has faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as
their saviour is part of the ‘Kingdom of God’. So the ‘Kingdom of God’ transcends all nations,
languages, tribes and has no physical boundaries.
How do we take citizenship in the ‘Kingdom of God’?
Whoever has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is blessed to be a citizen of the ‘Kingdom of God’ while
living in the world.
I kneel before the Father…[to ask] that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you…may
have strength to comprehend…what is the width and length and height and depth…to know the love
of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph 3:14-
Paul prayed that his listeners and readers would come to know the width and length and height and
depth of Christ’s love for us. It is like a tree with very large branches with room to shelter everyone.
We are all under the width and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, without exception.
Regardless of skin color, or race, or social background, or family background, we are all under the
width and length and height and depth of Christ’s love. Divisions are created by us, not by God.
Prejudice and bias show that we do not understand that we are all under God’s love, or show that we
are too stubborn to admit it. Prejudice and bias show that we do not understand or want to admit that
ultimately we all come from common parents. Prejudice and bias is human thinking, not
understanding or admitting that we are all nesting in the same tree created by God.
Not only does Jesus yearn to have us all in his kingdom of love, but Our Lady yearns to have us all
under her mantle. There is a hymn to Our Lady, often sung at the end of Mass in Germany,
expressing our desire to be under her mantle.
Mary, spread out your mantle,
Make it an umbrella and shield for us;
Allow us to stand under it safely,
Until all storms have passed by.
Patroness full of kindness,
Watch over us always.
Your mantle is very broad and wide,
It covers all Christianity,
It covers the wide, wide world,
And is a refuge and shelter for all.
Patroness full of kindness,
Watch over us always. (Gotteslob 534, my translation)
God bless. Have a blessed day.