I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,
from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,
and plant it on a high and lofty mountain;
on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.
Ezekiel is using plant symbols, a mighty tree, in his prophecy of the coming of the Messiah. He continues,
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
and become a majestic cedar.
There is an allusion here, also, to the Church that will grow around this mighty cedar.
Scripture often makes use of agricultural and plant analogies. In the Gospel today, Jesus tells a parables, one about a farmer scattering seed at planting time, and the “Mustard Seed” to instruct us about the “Kingdom of God”. Man does not create and recreate the Church. Jesus established the Church as the entrance to the Kingdom of God. Man does not make it flourish, God does. Despite man’s weakness the Church began with a very small group of people, and it grew into a mighty cedar. The Church is today active all over the world, and still it is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic”….
Man has been involved, but it is God’s work. Man has tried to screw it up, but God protects it. Jesus told 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.
This is the Kingdom of God growing among us. It is also the history of the Church. We know not how.
The Church is our inheritance. It is very human. However, after 2,000 years, it is also Divine, full of Sacramental life. We are called and formed to live the Sacramental life of the Church. And we are challenged to allow the Holy Spirit to grow within us, always forming us despite our own weaknesses.
Here in our parish, we are challenged to be a beacon of Faith and Hope to the community around us. We have a number of wonderful ministries and examples of discipleship.
It is wonderful to hear newcomers and visitors speak about our parish. I hear wonderful comments from time to time. However, I also receive some comments which are challenging for me.
Some have shared with me the phenomena of walking out of Church after Mass into a sea of humanity, parishioners patiently waiting to enter the church for the next Mass. Those are beautiful images. I’ve heard comments about this more than once, particularly from those who have attended the 8 am Mass on Sunday. We should have thanksgiving in our hearts. I find myself responding, “Thank God they come.”
Then, there are other comments. Recently, someone was sharing with me a similar comment and that they had begun speaking with the parishioners waiting for English-speaking attendees to exit the church. The comment was made by one of the people waiting outside, “They never smile. They are just coming out of Mass. Why don’t they smile?”
Ouch! Good point. We need to hear these comments, as well. How much larger would the Mustard bush be if only we smiled. A smile is like the Mustard seed for the Kingdom of God. A smile shares God’s joy. Our faith, …
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 plantsand puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
Smile today when you walk out of the Church. The Kingdom of God is at hand.