Seeking the Kingdom of God with Faith
Readings: 1st: Ezek 17, 22-24; Ps 91; 2nd: 2Cor 5, 6-10; Gos Mk 4: 26-34
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
On this eleventh Sunday of ordinary time, the church reminds us that, as part of God’s kingdom, the church of Christ is like a tree planted by God in the world. From the smallest of all seeds, she becomes the noblest of trees and fills the earth. She is the physical evidence of God’s kingdom. So, like the birds of the air, we are called to make our home in her.
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The first reading is a message of hope and restoration. Through prophet Ezekiel God promised to re-establish and elevate his people who were in exile in Babylon. This means that God wishes to transfer his people from a kingdom of oppression, poverty, and misery to a realm of justice, prosperity, and peace of mind.
This is the kingdom where Christ reigns as king and as the fountain of life. This is the kingdom where God wishes us to be. The church is the visible sign of this noble cedar or kingdom that gives refuge to all people.
In the second reading, Paul reminds us that we are on a journey towards the kingdom of God to be with Christ, our Lord, and king. Hence, whether we are “living in the body or exiled from it, we must remain focused on pleasing the Lord.
The journey to this kingdom is a journey that must be approached with faith and courage. Hence Paul reminds us: “Going as we do by faith and not by sight, we are full of confidence…and want to leave this body to be with Christ.” In light of this, we must advance diligently to be admitted into this kingdom by Christ.
In today’s gospel, Christ uses two parables to describe the kingdom of God. The kingdom he invites us to is a simple and peaceful one. It is open to all who seek it with a sincere heart. The easiest way to enter into it is by sowing a seed of faith in Christ. This is the key.
Hence, in the second parable, the mustard seed, the smallest seed, refers to our faith. “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt 17, 20). This includes entering the kingdom of God. However, it is important to note that the authenticity of our faith must be tested (James 1:3; 1Peter 1:7).
Faith grows, and when it does, it achieves great things. As it grows, it leads us to Christ and, consequently, to his kingdom. Our faith also draws others to Christ and his church, the visible sign of God’s kingdom on earth. As Christ says: “The birds of the air come to take shelter under its branches.”
How does our faith draw others to Christ? When we demonstrate or bear a good testimony of our individual and collective faith, the result is excellent. Lives could be touched and transformed. A few persons might come to believe in God.
Also, a youth might present himself for a particular sacrament and service in the church. A young couple might decide to normalize their marriage in the church. Someone might decide to give up a very old and bad habit, while another might choose to forgive another.
These may seem too insignificant achievements, but the seed is growing. Consequently, this leads to the growth of the church. The Church is the visible sign of God’s kingdom on earth and will continue to be. As our faith grows, the church, the body of Christ grows and, more people are drawn into the comfort of God’s kingdom.
Peace be with you!