Gospel Reflection: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 2
2 Cor 5:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
We are always courageous,
although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous,
and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
Therefore, we aspire to please him,
whether we are at home or away.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
so that each may receive recompense,
according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

Mk 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”

He said,
“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.


The parable in this Sunday’s Gospel tells us that the man who scatters the seed “knows not how” the land yields so great a harvest. While he was the one to plant the seeds in the ground, the actual growth was not his work. The same is true of our efforts in bringing others to the Person of Christ. The Lord invites each of us to be His instruments in scattering seeds of faith. However, He brings about the seeds’ growth.

Sometimes it can be very difficult for us to trust that this growth even is happening, especially when we cannot see anything blossom. Perhaps we have the most convincing arguments for Christianity’s value or the best strategies for evangelizing young people ready to be put into practice. God may use these in drawing someone closer to Him. However, He also may be doing slow work in the hearts of those very people we want to evangelize. In His own timing, He may invite them to see the face of Christ in the poor or to experience His forgivingness in the Sacrament of Penance in a way that is more profound than we could imagine. He invites us to scatter seeds, but He asks us to entrust the growing to Him.

This does not mean that our efforts are futile. In the Second Reading, Saint Paul writes to the Corinthians about the courage to pursue the things that direct our focus towards Heaven. This fortitude, which comes from God, does encourage us to do our part in evangelizing and witnessing to the faith that we believe with our whole hearts. However, it also strengthens us in those periods of patient waiting when our eyes do not immediately see abundant fruits. Courage reminds us that we cannot be without hope.

As we reflect on these Sunday Readings, we are invited to entrust all this evangelizing work to the True Grower, the Lord. We pray that the seeds we plant may be used by the Lord to produce great fruit, and that we may be humble enough to know our role in His Divine Plan. Please be assured of my prayers for you before Our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

+ Bishop Schlert


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