11th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2018

11B18.   Ezekiel 17:22-24.  “Thus says the Lord God: I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,” “a tender shoot, and plant it” “on the mountain heights of Israel” and it shall “become a majestic cedar.”  After the Babylonians had enslaved the Israelites and exterminated the ruling family in Jerusalem, Ezekiel is saying that God will reestablish the Davidic line of rulers and his kingdom in Israel again.  Referring to Israel God says he will “lift high the lowly tree”  “and make the withered tree bloom.” As Christians, we see this as foretelling of Jesus founding the kingdom of God on earth.

Mark 4:26-34.  Using parables, Jesus hopes to give the crowds some idea of how it is with spiritual kingdom of God that he seeks to create.  The man who scatters the seed is perhaps the good follower of Christ whom the Spirit uses to bring the word of God to others.  The one who makes the seed sprout, grow and become fruitful is the Holy Spirit himself.  The harvest is the gathering into heaven of the souls who have cooperated with the work of the Holy Spirit in them and grown day by day in the faith.  In the next parable Jesus emphasizes the smallness of the mustard seed, perhaps to say that, with just a little willingness in one’s heart, God can make a wonderful saint out of anyone.  Mark writes: “Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.”  Learning requires readiness and preparation.  What we have learned in the past enables to add or build on to achieve even more learning as one grade in school builds on the year’s previous learning. Learning is not only with the head but also with the heart.  Past experiences and choices help us to develop yet further our character and emotional commitment.  Jesus explains the parables in private to his own disciples because, having been with Jesus far more than the crowds, they know more and are more committed to Jesus.  Jesus builds on our readiness and dedication to grow spiritually.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10.  Paul writes: “We are always courageous; although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.”  To get a better understanding of these lines it helps to get a Bible and to read the verses that precede the ones we have above.  In this life while we truly do have the Lord because of our God-given faith; yet we will have God far more when we can actually see him in heaven.  We have the first installment on our home in heaven because God has given us the Holy Spirit who helps us to develop further as saints, who are the only people God allows to see him in heaven.  We need to have courage each day because life in this world is a struggle against the temptations from the devil and the world itself.  Life is this world was not easy for Jesus and likewise is not easy for us.

Paul continues: “Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.”  In my own mind we should love to please him because we enjoy his loving us so much.  Receiving recompense naturally flows from being loyal and faithful.  Family is family just for the joy of being loved and loving others because we are so filled with love that we cannot do anything else but love.  With Christ living in us and we living in Christ, we are already living the heavenly life to the degree that life in this world will allow us.  Jesus said in John 15:4a: “Remain in me, as I remain in you.”