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  • Rev. Lawrence E. Polansky

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

“It is the smallest of all seeds, and becomes the largest of plants.”

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 27(26):7, 9 – “O Lord, hear my voice, for I have called to You; be my help. Do not abandon or forsake me, O God, my Savior!

First Reading: Ez 17:22-24 – “I have lifted high the lonely tree.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16 – “Lord, it is good to give thanks to You.”

Second Reading: 2 Cor 5:6-10 – “Whether we are at home or away, we aspire to please the Lord.”

Alleluia: Alleluia, alleluia. “The seed is the Word of God, Christ is the sower; all who come to Him will live forever.” Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Mk 4:26-34 – “It is the smallest of seeds, and becomes the largest of plants.”

Communion Antiphon: Ps 27(26):4 – “There is one thing I ask of the Lord, only this do I seek: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”


Want radiant skin instantly? Shimmering hair? Endless energy? Teeth so white they blind people? Want to send hundreds of Facebook friends 200 pictures of your family, boyfriend, dog, cat, gerbil, turtle, or new hot water heater? Simply swallow the right pill, spray on the right product, download the right app, click – and it’s done in seconds! Our consumerist culture brainwashes us to expect almost instant, visible result – for anything. But that’s seldom how God works.


But we all need to consider God’s time versus our time. “Days are coming,” says the Lord, when [something good] will happen. This is a favorite expression of Amos, Jeremiah, and the Letter to the Hebrews. And after hearing that, I think our most probable reaction is: “Great—but when? We could use it now!” Our instant gratification training kicks in, sometimes making us doubt that God will fulfill the promise. Those “days that are coming” may not arrive in our lifetime, but they will come. We must accept that. “For who has known the mind of the Lord?” (Rom 11:34).


We must learn patience with growth in holiness: The Kingdom of God is within us. Maybe we expect God to be very thrilled that we ask for something good … that’s not selfish (for example national healing or an end to division) and that God will jump on it, as He seemingly did with Solomon’s request for wisdom. But consider this … Solomon’s wisdom may not have arrived fully mature and instantaneously. We commonly request for ourselves good things such as strength to overcome a habitual fault or sin … for greater self-discipline … for relief from obstacles … for a deeper spiritual life … for relief from debt, and probably for numerous other petitions I could mention. We may typically request good things for others such as return to the faith, good marriage and career decisions, a return to good health, finding employment, and many others.


And truth be told, we can draw lessons about the Kingdom of God from this weekend’s parable of the seed. Growth toward fruition is part of the kingdom’s DNA. In spite of seeming obstructions, it is unstoppable. The only question is whether we will be part of it. The kingdom’s growth is often hidden – “underground” or behind the scenes.


Poet John Milton observed, “God doth not need / Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best pleased when we accept, for the time being, our limitations.” “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Saint Mother Teresa once said: “God did not call me to be successful; God calls me to be faithful.” And finally Thomas Merton suggested that you should: “Be content that you are not yet a saint.”


Doing nothing, however, is not the lesson of this Gospel parable. Building the kingdom is a cooperative venture. In the Gospel of Saint Matthew we are told: “So ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for His harvest” (Matthew 9:38). And another thing. When our requests for good things seem unanswered, self-recriminations are not helpful. For example, “I didn’t pray hard enough for that (whatever that is)”“I didn’t say one of those ‘never-known-to-fail’ prayers,” “I should have made a novena,”“I must have upset God,” etc., etc., etc.


This weekend’s Gospel offer us a parable of hope. It invites us to hope when nothing hopeful is happening – to hope for spiritual progress when we don’t feel it, – to hope for conversion in someone we love when we don’t see it, and – to hope that the good seeds we have sown will blossom even though we may be gone.


It’s never true that, “I prayed, but nothing happened.” Something is always happening … even though invisible to us – and often it’s happening on God’s timetable, not ours.


As I was thinking about what I was going to say this weekend with this homily, I was listening to Alexa and the song “Wind Beneath My Wings” as sung by Bette Midler came on. And I think the Holy Spirit gave me the perfect way to end this homily: “Just remember in the winter / Far beneath the bitter snows / Lies the seed that with the sun’s love / In the spring becomes the rose.” (Concluding lyrics of “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Amanda McBroom, as popularized by Bette Midler).


Consider that as we prepare to receive our Lord in Communion and during our prayers today and throughout the week. Let’s ask to know our role in building the Kingdom of God.

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