Each weekend our readings come from different time and seek to address different needs that have happened in the course salvation history. In our Old Testament reading, Ezekiel is inspired to write as the chosen people are experiencing what it’s like to be ruled by a foreign power during the Babylonian exile. The second Reading, from 1 Corinthian’s, takes place as Paul is traveling throughout Greece spreading the good news about Jesus and what it means to be one of his followers. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is tasked with the difficult situation of trying to put into words that we can understand, what is meant by the kingdom of God.
That is precisely the focus of our readings this weekend the building and the meaning of the kingdom of God. Those words we heard from Ezekiel, tell of how God is going to eventually end a period of exile and restore the leadership to the line of David. Saint Paul, in Corinthians, is describing a tension that exists between the “present and the future as this kingdom of God is being revealed”. This is all pulled together as Jesus describes how the planting of a seed, and the growth of a plant from that seed, is like how God works in the world.
In this parable, Jesus seems to emphasize that we won’t necessarily understand or be able to comprehend what God is doing — that much of the work by God will seem to us like it is random, and that just happens or occurs on its own. Bishop Barron, in his commentary on this parable, emphasizes that this process will be gradual and slow. He says this is a gradual unfolding will happen so we can comfortably grow into what God is giving to us. Bishop Barron further emphasizes that God is inviting us to participate — he does not just want us to stand by. He wants us to use our gifts, talents, and intelligence to be co-creators with God. This kingdom is still unfolding and it is not something that we have to wait to experience after death. No, it is something that is happening now — that we can enjoy now. This kingdom is something that is not only happening to us — as individuals, but it is happening in our community, and throughout the world. Ultimately, the kingdom of God is not so much a thing or a process but a relationship… perhaps even a series of relationships. A relationship to God — yes; but also a relationship to each other, and all created things. A relationship, to which, we must give our consent. In closing I would like to offer you these words from Father Thomas Keating from the prologue of his book Intimacy with God.