YEAR B: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE ELEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TOPIC: GOD’S PROVIDENCE
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Mk 4:26-34
Message # 290: “The Mystery of My Immaculate Heart”
1. The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother’s message is on the occasion of the Feast of her Immaculate Heart. It is celebrated on the Saturday after Solemnity of Corpus Christi, a day after the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
b) The Blessed Mother invites her children to venerate her Immaculate Heart (letter a). By doing so, the Most Holy Trinity is also glorified and praised (letter b). At the same time, our heavenly Mother is also praised.
c) She also invites her children to love her Immaculate Heart (letter e). By doing so, “you yourselves become clothed with my motherly love and my immaculate mercy”, and thus we become like her and “transform your soul into the image of my own soul.” When this happens, “I also communicate my spirit to you in order to make you truly grow in my life and become, today, the expression of the presence of your heavenly Mother” (letter f), and the “concrete expression of my motherly love” (letter g).
d) Finally, she invites her children to offer reparation to the sorrow of her Immaculate Heart (letter h). She still is the sorrowful Mother, especially during these times when she sees so many souls of her children being led to sternal damnation, and her Immaculate Heart subjected to so much insults and assaults. Her sorrowful Heart has to be appeased through our acts of reparation, and thus “you become a source of great joy and consolation for me” (letter h).
e) By venerating, loving and offering reparation to her Immaculate Heart, we “understand more and more the great mystery of love and of mercy of my Immaculate Heart” (letter i), and thus we also will know the secret of her plan of salvation.
2. The Sunday Readings
a) The first reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel talks about God’s providence: “All the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree and make the withered tree bloom.” In this imagery, God reveals His absolute power over all creation.
b) The Responsorial Psalm is an invitation to praise and thank God: “Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.” If we but open our eyes, we will always see God’s hand at work in the world. Indeed, we always have every reason to thank Him at every moment of our lives.
c) The second reading is St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. He reminds the people of Corinth about our eternal destiny. No matter what happens here in this life, we are always courageous because we look forward to that heavenly home where we will have the fullness of life and happiness. In the meantime, our main concern is to remain always pleasing in God’s sight: “we aspire to please Him, whether we are at home or away.”
d) The Gospel narrates two parables: the parable of the scattered seeds, and the parable of the mustard seed. Both talk about how God makes the plants grow and bear fruits. Everything in this world comes from the providential and loving hand of God. No matter how small and insignificant these seeds are, with God’s providence, they become huge and fruitful.
e) The Marian message is related to the readings, particularly on the themes of littleness and obedience to the will of God. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is the most vivid picture of the little seed and the mustard seed being described in the parables of the Gospel. Her greatness is not in her personal merits, but in her total and unconditional obedience to the will of God. And she invites her children to follow her example and become great also in the eyes of the world and in God’s kingdom.
3. Points for Reflection
a) The two parables of the seeds remind us how God uses what is little and insignificant to work in the world and in souls. This is clearly illustrated in the case of the apostles. They were tasked to proclaim the gospel to all nations. But they were only simple fishermen, lacking in formal training and education. Yet God has His purpose in choosing them: “He chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1Cor 1:27). In that case, what comes out clearly is not the power of any human being, but the power of God. In that way, God is glorified through these humble instruments. So, no matter what happens, and in spite of everything, the preaching of the Gospel will be carried out successfully and fruitfully for it is God who truly works. The disciple is only His instrument. Hence, every disciple is reminded that in the task of spreading God’s Word, he must always remain humble and with full trust in the Lord.
b) The seed, in order to become a plant and grow into a big tree, must first undergo the process of dying – it has to be buried in the ground and die. This is true to any disciple of the Lord. As St. John the Baptist said, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). This dying must happen in us, so that like the Apostle St. Paul, we will be able to say, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me” (Gal 2:20). Unless we die to our self, we can never be effective instruments of the Lord. This is because the self (ego) will always interfere with the plan and action of the Lord in our life. Like the seed, we have to be buried and die, so that the power of God will raise us to new life in the Spirit, full of power and love.
c) The greatest danger nowadays is self- sufficiency. People rely so much on their own resources, personal capacities and human powers. Definitely, this is the spirit of pride and egoism at work in the world and in the minds and hearts of people. This further alienates people from God. The prouder a person gets, the farther he drifts away from God. Indeed, pride is the mark of the devil; humility is the mark of God. When people become self-sufficient, they do not anymore feel the need for God. In fact, they gradually disregard the existence of God. In the end, they even think and believe they are God – with their money, power and fame, they want to dictate on the lives of others; they want to be worshipped and adored. This is what makes the world turn upside down. The only way to bring back sanity and order in this world is for people to return to God – to worship and obey Him – and remain humble and little at all times. This is precisely what the parables of the seeds remind us. God holds absolute power over all creation. The humbler we are, the more powerful we will become, for God will use us as His instruments of His kingdom.
d) The seeds primarily refer to the Word of God, similar to the parable of the Sower. No matter how small the seed is, once it is sown, it will surely grow and bear fruit. This has been amply illustrated in the life of the early Christians. They were the minority; powerless and treated like common criminals. They were persecuted, humiliated and killed. But the more Christians are martyred for their faith, the more people are converted to the true faith. As Tertullian said, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.” Such is the power of the seed of the Word of God – because it is Christ Himself. Nothing is impossible with God. This should give us inspiration and strength, especially at times when we are discouraged due to the apathetic response of people to our apostolic endeavors. Just plant the Word of God. It is only a small seed, but with God’s providence and power, it will grow huge and bear abundant fruits for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. We are, therefore, reminded to have trust in God and strengthen our commitment and perseverance in spreading the Word of God to all people.
Recite the PRAYER OF HUMILITY.
GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE B.E.C.
1. Ano ang mga bunga ng pagiging mapagmataas?
2. Ano ang mga bunga ng pagpapakumbaba? Ano ang epektibong pamamaraan ng pagpapahayag ng Ebanghelyo?