Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the scriptures this Sunday, we hear of trees and kingdoms! The opening reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel relates God’s wondrous plan of redemption for the Kingdom of Israel, which is now in exile in Babylon. Using the metaphor of the cedar tree, the prophet gives hope to the exiles by describing how a tender shoot (Judah) will be plucked from the topmost branches of the tall cedar (Babylon) and replanted on the heights of Israel and given new life. It will bring forth lush branches and abundant fruit. “…I, the Lord, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree…I have spoken, so will I do” (Ez 17:24).
It is in this context that today’s entrance antiphon from Psalm 27:7, 9, acquires special meaning: “O Lord, hear my voice, for I have called to you; be my help. Do not abandon or forsake me, O God, my Savior!” God is Israel’s helper in time of distress and ours as well. As we read at the beginning of the same psalm, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”
The response to the first reading from Psalm 92, tells of yet another cedar tree: “The just one shall flourish like the palm tree, like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow. They are planted in the house of the Lord…They shall bear fruit even in old age” (Ps 92:13-15a). It is with joy that we chant the refrain “Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.” (Ps 92:2a). God, our Rock (cf. Ps 92:16) and savior is ever at our side in the midst of life’s trials. Thus, we proclaim [his] kindness at dawn and [his] faithfulness throughout the night (Ps 93:3).
In the gospel, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to the mustard seed, which, though so small a seed, brings forth the largest of plants with plentiful branches in which the birds of the sky can find shelter (Mk 4:30-32). From humble beginnings—a tiny seed (like the small, tender shoot described by Ezekiel)—comes the fullness of God’s Kingdom.
The second reading from St. Paul’s Second letter to the Corinthians, reminds us that this world is only our temporary home while we are in the body. We long to “go home to the Lord,” to the Kingdom of Heaven, to flourish in the courts of our God (cf. responsorial psalm). We give voice to this desire in the Communion antiphon, “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” (Ps 27:4).
For today: Where am I planted? Is my focus entirely on this world? Or do I have at least a few roots planted in the next?
Reflection by Br. Michael Marcotte, OSB