11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Salvadora persica

When Our Lord begins his public ministry the core of his message is that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and conversion and faith in the Gospel are needed. In today’s Gospel he gives us two parables to understand what the Kingdom of God is: the sowing and reaping of grain and the growth of a mustard seed. By teaching in parables he is trying to explain deeper spiritual realities using the every day realities that his listeners understand. The Gospel reminds us that he also gave more explanations in private to the disciples: deeper spiritual realities are understood more fully through parables and explanations, but since they ultimately refer back to the deepest mystery–God–they’re never completely fathomable.

The Kingdom of God reflects this profundity: it is reflected in the Church and her work, but it also the whole work of salvation, of God conquering hearts, one by one, throughout the centuries, until his reign of love endures forever in the hearts of those who welcomed it. The example of the grain shows us that this requires cultivation, waiting for the right time to reap the spiritual harvest of our labors, but also that God does the heavy lifting: the growth that is quiet, slow, and unseen, at times even when we’re not doing anything, comes from him and from his grace working in our souls and in the souls of others. The example of the mustard see shows that it starts small: in Jesus’ earthly ministry it went from him, to twelve disciples, then to thousands by the time narrated in the Acts of the Apostles, and to the whole world and throughout history. The Kingdom doesn’t just represent something small that has an incredible capacity for growth and expansion; like the cool shade of the mustard plant it makes room for everyone to find rest and consolation, because God wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Let’s pray today for the grace to cultivate the Kingdom of God in our hearts and for the insight to find our place in it. It’s not just something in the future: it is growing here and now.

Readings: Ezekiel 17:22–24; Psalm 92:2–3, 13–16; 2 Corinthians 5:6–10; Mark 4:26–34.

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