11th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B - 14th June 2015

The Kingdom of God

Jesus could have written a book or given a series of dogmas and rules, but he chose rather to tell short stories by way of illustration. However, all the gospels agree that the parable was the primary means by which Jesus taught the crowds and His message is summed up by his use of the phrase 'kingdom of God'.

The kingdom he speaks of is not the after-life but an expression of how God wants the world to be. So the parables of the kingdom deal with God's will for the world and how his grace is at work around us. As such, they offer both comfort and challenge.

In today's gospel there are two such parables about the kingdom, both centred on the theme of growth. In the first, the kingdom is likened to the situation that unfolds when someone sows seed in the ground. The seed grows independently of him, he knows not how, until the time of the harvest. Jesus wants his hearers to understand that as surely as the seed grows so too does the work of the kingdom happen. It is not up to us - it is a gift of God.

Like children watching a plant grow, we adults are impatient when it comes to matters of faith and we want to see immediate and tangible results. The seed of God's kingdom sown in baptism, nurtured through prayer and Eucharist, can seem to be very slow in bearing fruit.

But Christ assures us of the potential of this seed. He compares the faith-seed in our hearts with the tiny mustard seed which has the potential to grow into a tree. God's seed within us will always bear fruit unless it is stifled by fear or by preoccupation with oneself.

Today's parables stress that we must not fret or worry but rather trust that the kingdom will come because God wants it to. They are an invitation to take time to consider how the plan of God unfolds around us in ways that are both surprising and sure.

The kingdom of God, God's dream for us, is still unfolding. It is invisible so we find it hard to grasp. It doesn't make national headlines, yet it is in our midst, growing in the soil of human hearts. At the end-time, however, it will be emblazoned in the heavens, clear and unmistakable. For God will then be "all in all".

And we, God's children, will reap the many blessings of the dream - eternally.

Fr. Kevin O'Shea, C.M.