Year in and Year out
Homily for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Preached on June 13-14, 2015 at Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY and Saint Mary Catholic Church, Perryville KY
Readings: Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34
Some probably expected the carpenter from Nazareth to single out an exotic wood to describe the Kingdom of God. For one, it would have been easier to compare God’s Kingdom to a Lebanon cedar, a tree that towers over all the others in the forest (cf. Ez. 31:5). That evergreen withstands the harshest of winters and shelters all sorts of creatures (cf. Ez. 17:23). Pharaohs have used its wood to build their palaces, kings their temples. Even the Assyrians had no problem equating the breadth of their empire to the span of a cedar’s shade (cf. Ez. 31:3-8).
Perhaps, that was why Jesus did not choose a cedar as a metaphor for God’s reign. There is just too much history there of the glorious rise of empires and their humiliating fall from grace, a fall that could best be compared to the thunderous thud of timber (cf. Ez. 31:16). The metaphor of a cedar, as the expression goes, just does not cut the mustard. However majestic and mighty it might appear, a cedar would stand tall today and, by an axe of a lumberjack, will be gone tomorrow.
But, the Kingdom of God is not here today and gone tomorrow. It might seem insignificant right now in our list of priorities, but its importance continues to grow with every passing day. Perhaps, that is why Jesus compares God’s Kingdom to a mustard seed, a grain so little, but which, when given time, grows to be great and useful (cf. Mk. 4:30-32). The mustard might be an annual shrub so common that nobody ever bothers to worry that we will run out of it. But, such is God’s grace and His Kingdom: it is bound to be there for us year in and year out.