The kingdom awaits those open to receive it

  • June 4, 2015

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B) June 14, (Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34)

Human beings are competitive and love the feeling of pride that comes with achievement. They are also impatient — they want what they want, and they want it now, as the radio commercial goes. The Scriptures teach us another lesson — God’s ways are not ours, nor is God’s sense of time.

God has all the patience in the world and is willing to take whatever time is necessary to accomplish the divine will. God begins with the smallest and most insignificant things — in this case, a mere sprig from the top of cedar. It eventually grows into a stately and majestic tree. The trees that are already healthy and fully grown, on the other hand, are brought low by the divine hand. The message is clear — God is the one ultimately in charge, and God’s purposes will be accomplished.

Human efforts are so often out of harmony with the divine will and tainted by selfishness, greed and fear. One of the lessons we can learn from history is that any human undertaking that is not in step with God, even unwittingly so, is doomed to failure. Injustice, cruelty and domination may run rampant for a time, but they have absolutely no future. The same applies to our personal life. A good portion of our activity is actually self-seeking. Small wonder that things often do not go the way that we want them to.

If we could only get into the habit of walking in sync with God and having the patience to let things unfold at God’s pace. Our heart and mind must be fixed in the right direction if we want our efforts to be “successful.” God’s action is usually quiet, hidden and small in its beginnings. The end result is usually stunning. Our own quiet, “insignificant” thoughts, words and deeds each day that are in harmony with God are important. Even though they will seldom make the newspapers or the evening news, they are the seeds from which the kingdom of God grows.

Paul had a strong sense of exile while in the body. The yearning of his heart was to depart and be with the Lord, but he realized that each one of us is here for a purpose. That purpose is to serve God and to develop and perfect our ability to love. This applies whether we are in the body or with the Lord, so in a sense it doesn’t matter where we are or what state of life we find ourselves in. God’s purpose for us is always the same and if we are fulfilling that purpose, we are not exiled or alienated at all.

Patience and small beginnings are essential elements in the kingdom of God. Many in the time of Jesus were very anxious for the arrival of God’s kingdom and the expulsion and defeat of the Romans and other enemies. They asked the same question that we ask: If the kingdom of God has come as you say, where is it? Used to human conceptions of kingdom or rule, they looked for something big and spectacular. In the Gospels, Jesus insisted that the kingdom of God is both within and among us, and we should not run to and fro chasing after illusions and rumours. The kingdom of God is a state of spiritual consciousness. The symbols used in the parables of the kingdom — the mustard seed and the scattered seeds — signify God’s continual and unrelenting work on our behalf. Unnoticed at first, these “seeds” finally reach a tipping point or critical mass. This is the point in which people, places and situations are transformed. With transformation, they are in harmony with God, and the results are unmistakable. Compassion, justice, human solidarity, equality and reconciliation are but a few of its characteristics.

Those who have crossed the threshold into the kingdom are not ruled by fear, selfishness or the desire to dominate and control others. They are at peace with themselves, with life and with God. The kingdom will be realized in those hearts and minds that are prepared and open to receive it, so it is within our individual power to hasten or delay that experience. Our daily experience is an opportunity to take a few more steps towards that kingdom and it is too precious to be wasted.

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