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Sunday, June 17, 2018

To Fulfill His Mission

Jesus Waited 33 Years
then Stretched Out His Hands on the Cross

Sermon by Fr. Joseph Mungai, FMH
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 17, 2018
Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Hoover, AL

Happy Father's Day! 
Our readings (Ez 17:22-24; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34) remind us that our Father in heaven is the planter and sower of seeds.

In some imitative way all fathers on earth are called to be an image of the sower of seeds and it will take great courage to live this way of life, patiently forming our children. Pride in the "historic man" often leads us to dominate and grasp. These are not the values Jesus presented in the parables of the sowing of seeds.

In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus gives us two parables of the seeds to describe the reign of God. The first is the Parable of the Growing Seeds. It tells us that God’s kingdom, like the seed, will definitely come, regardless of any human intervention. The second is the Parable of the Mustard Seed, “the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.” Yet when it is
sown, it grows and become the largest of plants. Why did Jesus use the image of the seed in these parables? Certainly, the seed has significant qualities that will help us understand the mystery of the kingdom of God.

First, the seed is small and, in the eyes of most people, insignificant. Only farmers truly appreciate its value. In the parable of the Sower, Jesus pictured God as the farmer who sowed seeds on the ground. And that is precisely how God works – always from humble and small beginnings: from the
manger in Bethlehem to the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth and to the cross in Calvary; from twelve unlettered disciples in Galilee to the great forums of Rome and throughout the whole world.

This teaches us the lesson on humility and littleness. Fallen human nature tends to seek for recognition and appreciation. Hence, people aspire to become big – rich, famous, and powerful. But experience tells us that this is not the way to true greatness and happiness. The seed is a reminder that being little does not mean being powerless or insignificant. In fact, as shown by the example of God, it is the way to true greatness. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A great man is always willing to be little.” In other words, it takes a lot of greatness to become little. The way of God is humility; the way of the devil is pride.

Second, the seed grows slowly. It follows the process of nature, which is gradual and slow. There is no shortcut to growth and development. This is the way the Kingdom of God unfolds. Unfortunately, many people nowadays do not subscribe to this truth anymore. Being used to the comforts and convenience in this age of technology, they think that success can be achieved quickly and easily. Everybody is in a hurry and
impatient. They hate to wait. But the seed teaches us that the way to greatness and success is a long and painstaking process – “first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.” 

Again, this is clearly illustrated in the life of Jesus. He has come to save the world. But he had to undergo the complete process of birth, growth and maturity. He had to patiently wait for thirty-three years before he stretched his hands on the cross to fulfill his mission. Indeed, as the famous director, Mario Puzo, said, “Great men are not born great; they grow great.”

Have we ever thought why during these times there are so many people afflicted with cancer?  Most of these cancer cases, apart from heredity, are caused by the food we eat. In the recent past, people raise chicken and hogs in their backyards that feed on organic grains, fruits and vegetables. Fish were caught in the pristine oceans. 

Nowadays, poultry, fish and meat products are farmed and raised artificially, with the use of chemical-laced feeds so that they grow fast. Even fruits, vegetables and rice are genetically engineered and bombarded with fertilizers and chemicals for fast growth and maximum harvest. All these are done for only one obvious reason: huge and quick profits.

This greedy human intervention invariably results in the unprecedented rise in the number of cancer victims and the emergence
Pope Saint John Paul II
of many other diseases. Pope Saint John Paul II is correct when he declared, “The greatest misfortune of this age is that people consider money as the highest good.” 

This sad reality teaches us the lesson, not only on the evil of greed, but also on the need to obey the laws of nature, and on the value of patience as we wait for the slow but sure unfolding of the Kingdom of God in our midst.

Third, the seed is totally dependent, not on the power of any human being, but on the providence of God. It is God who supplies the minerals and nutrients in the soil, and sends sunshine and rainfall on the seed until it grows and bears fruit.

Again, this truth does not resonate with many people nowadays. Progress in the fields of technology and science has made people think they can be self-sufficient, and can now conveniently put God aside. Pope Benedict XVI made this apt observation: “The crisis we are living through carries with it signs of the exclusion of God from people’s lives, a general indifference to the Christian faith, and even the intention of marginalizing it from public life.” 

It is best, therefore, to remind us of the Lord’s words: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).

Finally, the seed, though nurtured by nature and God’s providence, still needs the caring hands of the farmer. God seldom operates directly in the affairs of the world. As a rule, He always uses the instrumentality of human beings who cooperate in His plan to bring about His Kingdom in the world. When people obey God’s will, the advent of His kingdom is hastened: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

God gives only the seeds of peace, progress and salvation. And He expects us to plant and nurture them to full fruition. This we do by faithfully obeying His will.

Ultimately, it is God who brings about His kingdom, and He invites us to join Him in building it here on earth until it reaches perfection and fullness in heaven.

Fr Joe Mungai is seeking his own harvest -- a source of water for his people in  in Central Kenya — Gatura,Thigio in Kiambu County. To read about this important project go to A Deep Down Thirst

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