YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 11TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: GREAT THINGS BEGIN SMALL
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY: R1 – Ez 17:22-24
RESP PS – Ps 92:2-3,13-16
R2 – 2Cor 5:6-10
GOSPEL – Mk 4:26-34
There is an amazing fact about one of the tallest trees on the surface of the earth, the Chinese Bamboo Tree. It has the capacity to grow more than 90 feet above the ground.
Once you plant it, you need to water it, nurture it, and fertilize it every day. But nothing happens the first year. Still nothing happens after the second year. Even after 3 years, no one sees any result, not even any sign of germination – imagine for a long 3 to 4 years, You’re waiting for results, not seeing any evidence of progress. Can you imagine yourself doing the same things every day, not having any evidence that your efforts are having any effect? However, after 4 years, boom, the germination process begins, But then what happens on the fifth year is just awesome. One morning you wake up and see a small bamboo spring, then the next day an even bigger one and in 5 weeks it has grown up to 90 ft. (27 meters)! It grows 99cm every hour and 24 inches every 24 hours.
Beloved in Christ, the thrust of this Sunday’s liturgy focuses on the birth and gigantic growth of the Kingdom of God in our human lives and in the Church from very humble and little beginnings.
*GREAT THINGS BEGIN SMALL**
It might interest you to know that life and realities begin from the simply to the most complex state. This can be seen both in human beings, plants, animals and other developmental or creative enterprises; They simply emanate from the smallest beginnings.
(i) Sultan Kosen, the tallest man in the world and Jon Brower the fattest person in the world, started out as small babies.
(ii) The largest redwood or iroko trees and tallest Chinese Bamboo trees in the world start out in a small seed.
(iii) Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which is arguably the greatest piece in music comes from the eight musical notes (d-r-m-f-s-l-t-d)
(iv) The greatest works of literature, which some refer as the Shakespearean collections and even the Bible are born from the twenty-six letters of the alphabet.
(v) Leonard Da Vinci’s greatest works of art began with just a single stroke of the brush or pencil.
(vi) The most important and long lasting movement on the face of the earth – (Christianity) began in a manger in Bethlehem.
(vii) The universality missio ad Gentes, via Missio Ad Extra and Missio Ad Intra began with just 12 men in Mtt 10, 72 men in Lk 10 and 120 people commissioned at Mount Olive in Mtt 28:19-20.
So, to make great impacts, the small things must be considered and used. If the mustard seed is not planted, the tree never grows.
The first reading, taken from Ez 17:22-24, is a Messianic prophecy. Ezekiel tells us how the Lord, God of Israel will allow a descendant of King David to become the Messiah and Saviour of the world. The shoot which Isaiah prophesied that will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot will grow from his roots (Isaiah 11:1).
In the second reading, St. Paul teaches the Corinthian Christians that they are to advance the growth of God’s Kingdom and His rule in their lives by doing His will so that they may be amply rewarded in the final judgment.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus compares the growth of the Kingdom of God to the germination of a wheat seed and that of a tiny mustard seed. Both have exceedingly small beginnings.
*UNDERSTANDING THE KINGDOM OF GOD*
Whenever Jesus implores the aid of parables, it usually indicates that such topic of discussion is quite an unfamiliar and unclear one to his listeners… Because, parable means: ” _para_ + _bole_ ” _( _besides or alongside + cast_ ). So, Jesus uses parables whenever He wants to shed light on an unfamiliar and vague ideas, using familiar ideas. This implies that the concept, ‘Kingdom of God’ which is the central theme of Jesus’ Kerygma in Mk 1:15 was not well understood by His listeners.
Inorder to have a clearer understanding of the Kingdom of God, we need to appeal to the Greek lexicon to unravel the etymological meaning of kingdom: the Greek _Basileia _ , means ” _reign_ ” or ” _rule_ .” So, “Basileia Thou Theo” simply means the reign of God. Wherever God reigns or where His will is prevalent, whether in our lives, in the Church, in our families and marriages, there is the Kingdom of God.
However, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), in his book, _Jesus of Nazareth_ , while responding to the criticisms of Alfred Loisy that Jesus preached the kingdom and what came after was the church not the kingdom, gave various dimensions of this “reign” kingdom of God:
(a) *CHRISTO BASILEIA* – in Christ is the fullness of God’s kingdom….
(b) *AUTO BASILEIA*
In our individual lives is also manifested the kingdom of God.
(c) *ECCLESIA BASILEIA*
This is the kingdom of God in the church.
In other words, in Christ, in the Church and in our lives are the realization of God’s kingdom.
There are three things required of the Wheat, Mustard seed or even the Chinese Bamboo to grow from small beginnings to a large tree or crop.
(1) *A SOLID ROOT SYSTEM*
For any tree to grow strong, it must first build a solid foundation by developing its root system (GEOTROPISM), so that it can support the whole structure and weight above ground when the day comes. The scripture says, “Foundation once destroyed, what shall the just man do?” (Ps 11:3). The ultimate foundation is laid of Christ the rock (1Cor 10:4).
Most parents lay strong foundation for their children first, by teaching them the ways of God’s kingdom and its righteousness, by filling the hole of poverty, ignorance and immorality in their families by sending them to school. The young lay their own foundation by going to school, apprenticeship, or learning a trade, not hoping on Ego mbute… becoming a fraudster. (Consider and work on your character, values and attitude).
Ask yourself – what is one thing I can do today that will help me to improve my attitude toward work, people, life?
2. *GREAT THINGS BEGIN SMALL*
Obviously, it takes small actions everyday to make a big difference in the long run, like the wheat, mustard seeds and the Chinese Bamboo.
In life, there is no such thing as overnight success. Real success takes time and diligent effort. Every billionaire or successful man in any field of life started out as a fresher, no matter the field of life. You become successful by doing the right things on a regular basis to move closer to your goals.
Ask yourself – what one tiny thing can I do today that will move me closer to this specific goal and destiny?
3. *IT TAKES PERSISTENCE, CONSISTENCE AND PATIENCE*
Some dreams may take months or even years to accomplish. If you start working on your goals and dreams today, but don’t see immediate results, will you continue tomorrow? How much consistence and patience will that require? Successful people don’t stop – they move forward, even if they don’t see immediate results. Don’t give up. Keep going.
(4) *THE REIGN OF GOD IS AKIN TO RIGHTEOUSNESS*
The kingdom of God is akin to righteousness. The scripture says that we cannot seek the kingdom of God without it’s righteousness. Only when we seek its righteousness can the reign and will of God prevail in our lives (Mtt 6:33). That is why the responsorial Psalm says that, “Only the righteous shall flourish like the palm tree (Ps 92:12).
Finally, a story was narrated about an American billionaire, who had lots of multinational companies, with 21 regional headquarters, and their corresponding managers. They were all doing well, responsible, accountable and dedicated.
This billionaire fell sick at the age of 75. He was advised by his doctor to seek a replacement as the CEO, as a result of old age; Knowing fully well, that none of his sons could match the demands, so the CEO resorted to picking one of the regional managers. There arose a problem that put the man in a dicey situation; who is more eligible, since all of them are performing?
As a veteran, he devised an unfamiliar strategy of choosing the right replacement for this desired and elevated position. He distributed 21 apple seedlings and promised to hand over the post of the CEO to whoever would groom his/her apple to flourish more than others. With excitement and enthusiasm, they all went home and with the zeal to become the CEO, started nurturing, watering and caring for the seedlings which were to be presented for vetting after 4 months at the retirement party of the billionaire for proper handover.
They started nursing these seedlings and they all germinated except that of one man called Jim. After 3 months, Jim’s wife advised him to seek an alternative of replacing the ungerminated seed. He insisted in keeping right. The wife in later days persuaded him but he insisted in maintaining the principles of RIGHTEOUSNESS. Even effort by the wife to coerce him to plant another seed hit the rock.
On the said day of the retirement party, the inspection of the most flourished apple and consequent handover, Jim refused to go. At the eleventh hour, he made up his mind to go. As he was about setting out, he asked his wife to accompany him to the party. He received an unimaginable insults of his life from his wife, who mocked him for REFUSING TO SHINE HIS EYES, BUT HE INSISTED ON KEEPING RIGHT.
Jim, left alone to the party, with his bowel of ungerminated apple seed. The moment he got into the party hall, he became a laughing stock for carrying a bowel with ungerminated seedling, whereas, his colleagues had their own decorated with flourishing apple plant. He mustered courage and dropped it and continued partying.
Behold, the time for the vetting and handover. The billionaire walked passed all their blossoming apple plant and stopped at Jim’s stand. He invited Jim and guess what….. He handed over to him as his successor. The whole party hall was aggrieved, people started murmuring and agitating. He took up the microphone to address the assembly: “You can deceive some people sometimes, but you can’t deceive everyone everytime. Even if you do, you cannot deceive God.”
He proceeded to tell them that he handed over to Jim, because, he was the only righteous man among them. He had perboiled those apple seedlings before giving them to sow. In other words, none of them was supposed to germinate. All those with germinated and blossoming plants, did what Jim’s wife suggested to him; buying fresh ones from the market after their refusal to germinate.
Beloved, with righteousness, the Kingdom of God is not far from us.
May the reign and rule of God’s kingdom be realised in our hearts, families, marriages and communities. May we never depart from the part of righteousness.
_FR. GERALD MUOKA_