Sunday, June 13
Ez 17:22-24; Ps 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mk 4:26-34
I don’t know about you, but right now, I really like the sound of “ordinary” time. Since mid-February, we’ve experienced the special seasons and rhythms of Lent, Easter, and the Solemnities that follow one after the other until we arrive here, the reemergence of Ordinary Time. In addition, as we continue to recover our lives from the damages of the global pandemic, “ordinary” time seems a welcome place to find ourselves.
We have all faced the fragility of life in ways we have never had to before; we have witnessed our smallness in the face of a destructive virus; we have amassed a pile of missed opportunities and broken dreams. And yet, in spite of what we have seen, in the words of St. Paul, “we are always courageous, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
It seems appropriate, both as we inaugurate the summer growing season, as well as sow new beginnings for post-pandemic life, that the Word of God for this Sunday oozes with agrarian metaphors. Seeds and saplings, planting and yielding, lush branches and abundant fruit—all bursting forth as great surprises from the touch of God. And what comes forth by the hand and heart of God is not sparse nor sparing, not meager or in need of rationing. What emerges from the ground of God is lush, overflowing, majestic, and flourishing beyond what we could have hoped for or imagined.
Ezekiel’s prophecy is meant to bolster the dashed and broken dreams of those who experienced exile and defeat. Mark’s gospel proclamation is meant to bolster a small, fragile community of disciples who wondered how they would ever survive in a hostile world, one that sought to crush the nascent followers of the Way. While St. Paul speaks about our true home beyond this world of hurts, disappointments, pandemics, sin and sorrow, he acknowledges that we are still, here and now, “in the body,” and therefore, must choose to live courageously, trusting in the One who sows the seeds, plants the pruned sprig, and ultimately provides refuge.
But what is our role, if any, while God is doing all the work underground, behind the scenes, wielding power and authority in extraordinary ways? It seems that we are being invited to create a proper holding place, a nurturing womb, a spirit of readiness to receive what God is planting in our midst—individually and communally. As the psalmist declares, life will indeed flourish by the hand of God, but only when “planted in the house of the Lord.” Only seed and sapling rooted in the ground of God will produce a majestic tree, on a majestic mountain that becomes a majestic refuge.
Perhaps like our ancestors in faith from Mark’s community, huddled together in fear and anxiety, we may be operating more on sight rather than faith, believing that our commitment to discipleship is too weak, too fragile, too insignificant, too broken to bring about much of anything, let alone something grand and majestic.
So let us drink in the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians, “be courageous,” and let us trust not in our own pieties and practices, not in our own wisdom and strength, not in our own strategies and good works, but rather trust in the Lord, who reminds us, “I have spoken, so will I do!”
Father Berinti serves as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Melbourne Beach.