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Catholic Church / Pacoima, CA

Thy Kingdom Come

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

“The kingdom of God 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.” Mark 4:31-32

The Gospel of Mark is nothing if not a testament to the power of parables to illustrate the Good News through story. Jesus was a master storyteller who understood the importance of using images and concepts to which his listeners could relate. A seed, a mustard plant, would symbolize one of Mark’s signature focuses: the Kingdom of God.

Centuries earlier, the prophet Ezekiel proclaimed most poetically to the Israelites, recently liberated from Babylonian captivity, that their God was still their hope, their comfort, their rescue, and their shelter. Those refugees would understand the image of the towering cedar as a symbol of their kingdom, cut down, fallen, captured. By restoring their kingdom, their God was giving them a new creation (the replanted shoot) and a new covenant.

Ezekiel said that God would tear off “a tender shoot” (17:22) for this replanting. What does this sound like? Why, Advent, of course, and specifically the words of the prophet Isaiah: “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom” (Isaiah 11:1); and again in Isaiah’s Messianic texts we hear: “He grew up before us like a tender shoot” (53:2). Jesse was the father of the great king David and, as we know, Jesus came to be that tender shoot, that blossom, the new Davidic King whose throne, the cross, was once a tree.

God’s incarnation in Jesus, born fully human, is the fulfillment of the promise to Ezekiel of the renewed and restored cedar, the new Kingdom. That new creation and covenant exists for us in the Church, through the Holy Spirit making the seed planted within us grow, flourish, and spread. Thus we have the faith and courage to be that visible sign of the Kingdom bringing hope and renewal to the world. We must live Kingdom lives before we can convince others to do so.

Readings for the Week

Monday: 2 Cor 6:1-10; Ps 98:1, 2b, 3-4; Mt 5:38-42
Tuesday: 2 Cor 8:1-9; Ps 146:2, 5-9a; Mt 5:43-48
Wednesday: 2 Cor 9:6-11; Ps 112:1bc-4, 9; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Thursday: 2 Cor 11:1-11; Ps 111:1b-4, 7-8; Mt 6:7-15
Friday: 2 Cor 11:18, 21-30; Ps 34:2-7; Mt 6:19-23
Saturday: 2 Cor 12:1-10; Ps 34:8-13; Mt 6:24-34
Sunday: Jb 38:1, 8-11; Ps 107:23-26, 28-31; 2 Cor 5:14-17; Mk 4:35-41