Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B

Hamaday Ron_Homily.jpg

Ronald A. Hamaday, O.S.A.
Convento S. Agostino
San Gimignano, Italy

Ez 17: 22-24
Ps 92: 2-3, 13-14, 15-16
2 Cor 5: 6-10
Mk 4: 26-34

Everyone likes a story. We get drawn into a good story and we moan at a bad story, but, nonetheless, we listen to it and it usually elicits some type of response on our part…a comment, laughter, a groan, or whatever the case may be. But to tell a story you need words and, unfortunately, not all words have the same meaning in all countries around the world, and that can totally change the point of the story.

For instance, if you go to Italy and order a pepperoni pizza you will get a pizza with green or red bell peppers on it. You say to the waiter: “I ordered a pepperoni pizza,” and he says: “Si, that’s what you got.” Pepperoni in Italy is green or red peppers, so if you are telling a story about pepperoni to an Italian, he or she will be thinking red or green peppers and it will have a totally different meaning.

Jesus mostly taught by parables or stories. The gospel says: “He spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them.” So, in the Gospel passage today Jesus tells of the growth of the kingdom of God from seeds that were scattered which grew over time. He says that the seeds started small but over time grew into large branches or grew to provide grain. This was a story and these were images that the people could easily understand.

What about us today… how do we understand these stories? One way is to see ourselves as the seeds that were planted and allowed to grow. Through our baptism and confirmation we were planted into the rich soil of the Word of God and we grew and learned from our teachers and others around us. We learned what it meant to be a part of the kingdom of God and what we must do to help it grow and spread. But, unfortunately, not all would live up to the challenge. Some got caught up in the weeds of society that stopped the growth of the kingdom of God. Others produced good fruit and spread branches and helped others to grow but then for some reason dried up and withered. Others fall somewhere in between. In one of his sermons St. Augustine said: “Sometimes people are considered by human estimation to be grain, and in fact they are weeds; and others are reckoned to be weeds, but in fact are really grain.”

I believe that our readings today call us to look at ourselves and reevaluate how we are doing in our task of spreading the kingdom of God. How have you done? We know that after this life, in another place, we will receive the consequences for what we have done and for what we haven’t done. Augustine challenges us: Don’t be today what you were yesterday, or at least don’t be tomorrow what you are today.”