Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

“I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar, from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot, and plant it on a high and lofty mountain” (Ezek. 17:22­). The prophet promises God will take a cedar shoot, something small and insignificant, and plant it on a mountaintop. I get great joy out of starting a plant from a cutting. Against all odds, what began small and weak will “put forth branches and bear fruit.” It will become “a majestic cedar,” with life-giving fruit, where all will find refuge. Each of us is a tender shoot, plucked by God’s hand, planted at the foot of the Cross, and nourished at the fountain of Salvation. Having been grafted to Christ, we have been fed with Christ’s life-giving blood and become channels of life for the human race.

God is the giver and sustainer of life. All of creation is the object or his provident care. A shoot has sprouted from the root of Jesse and in Christ all things have been made new. God is ever faithful and ever true to His word, it is we who are unfaithful. The tragedy of salvation history is that although God desires all people to be saved, not all people desire to be saved. This was confirmed by Jesus’s comment to St. Teresa of Avila: “Teresa, I was willing, but men were not.” Each person who is willing to surrender to the love and will of the Father will find the fullness of life in Christ. God, the eternal tender of the garden, is willing to take a choice shoot from a dying tree and allow it to take root, flourish, and bear fruit. What began scrawny and weak can “put forth healthy branches and bear fruit.” 

He who tends the garden of the world knows his trade. If we allow him to work with us, we can and will find newness of life in him. Everyone willing to enter into an honest and open dialogue with the gardener will come to know the freedom of the children of God. What a privilege and blessing it is to come to know ourselves as beloved sons and daughters in the Son. Saint Benedict testified to the abundant love that flows from the heart of God when he wrote: “Never despair of God’s mercy” (RB 4.73). What is small and seemingly insignificant can bring a fruitful outcome. When God, in his mercy, stretches out His hand to us, we are restored to value and dignity.

Our God Is Here

[Verse 1]
Here in this time, here in this place
Here we are standing face to face
Here in our hearts, here in our lives
Our God is here (Chris Muglia)

The Master Gardener is also the one who lavishly and extravagantly scatters the Seed of the Word. The seeds he sows are bustling with life and fecundity. Once we receive the implanted Word, it is a marvel to watch it grow. “Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear” (Mk.4:28). The amazing thing about this is that it is all God’s work, all we need to do is let it happen. If we let the Word find a receptive heart, it will produce the harvest within us.  God who is rich in mercy plants within us a seed that is pulsing with life. It grows gradually, but tenaciously. It puts down deep roots and holds firm in the receptive heart. Once it has sprung up, it produces its intended harvest. What a wonder to behold! The Living Word works its way into our hearts and transforms us. The secret growth of the seed demonstrates how God’s action in our lives is beyond our understanding and control and often produces surprising results.

The parable of the seed invites us to ponder the relationship between the movement of God’s grace and our participation. The seed grows independent of our understanding, while it needs our participation to find fertile ground. We need to trust in the unseen and effective work of God’s grace in our lives and then we need to be willing to act on the lights we receive from our loving Father. God who is faithful and true will plant a shoot of healing among us. Under his watchful gaze, it will put forth branches for all of us to find a place of peace and security.

Our God Is Here
[Verse 2]
Here in the Word, God is revealed
Here where the wounded can be healed
Here in our hearts, here in our lives
Our God is here (Chris  Muglia)