Sunday, June 17, 2012

Today's Gospel and Commentary

Gospel: Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds:
"This is how it is with the kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come."

He said,
"To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It 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
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
Commentary on Mk 4:26-34

We are given two parables from the Gospel of St. Mark. The first is unique to Mark’s Gospel and follows the parable of the Sower. The mystery of the seed is analogous to Jesus’ own ministry which starts as a seed but grows to encompass the world. The parable takes that image to its completion the reference to grain being the completion of the evangelical mission followed by the harvest of the Parousia.

The second parable, the parable of the Mustard Seed, echo’s the vision of the Kingdom of God described in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 17:23; 31:6) with the image of the Kingdom of God providing a resting place for all as the giant cedars of Lebanon do for the birds.


The Prophet Ezekiel and Jesus in St. Mark’s Gospel use the analogy of the growing tree; Ezekiel uses the giant cedars of Lebanon and St. Mark references the Mustard Tree. In both instances there is reference to the growth of these trees into places where all creation can find life. The analogy is apt for we who find the strength and endurance promised by David in the Psalm. But, today there is a growing blight in the world and it threatens the tree.

While the threat or blight attacking the tree that has become the Universal Church takes many forms, the recurring attack that is most insidious is secularism. The reason secularism is the overarching threat is because it is not overt. Rather it is covert; an often hidden attack that first negatively impacts what in our analogy would be the seeds (our Children). It comes in the form of softening moral values and affects even the most powerful. The President of the United States recently said “I’ve been evolving on this issue…” referring to his stance on same-sex marriage. His moral core has been eroded and with it his leadership. St. Paul tells us “
Yet we are courageous”; courageous as the bark of the tree standing up to infection and parasitic attacks that seek to kill the tree.

Powerful people have adopted the secular cause, even some who would call the great tree of life their home. They confuse morality with inclusion and believe that, in order to love as Christ taught us, we must accept a moral position naturally and morally at odds with our core beliefs. This is analogous to allowing the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer; an insect that bores through the bark of a tree and kills it from the inside. The leave holes in the protective bark and allow disease to help the destruction of the tree.

We are called to be part of Ezekiel’s great cedars and the Lord’s Mustard Tree. We are called to a moral standard that will make the secular world very uncomfortable and will no doubt, as it did for our Lord and Savior, turn the tree into a cross which we must all embrace. May we find the courage St. Paul espouses in ourselves and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, stand against the coming challenge to our liberty and our way of life.

source: Servant of the Word

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