Sunday, 13 June 2021 : Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we heard the very obvious reference to the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of Heaven throughout today’s Scripture readings, that try to give us a glimpse and understanding of what the Kingdom of God is all about. God had made it known and revealed to all of us the truth about His kingdom, where all of His beloved people are truly welcome.

In our first reading today we heard of the vision of the prophet Ezekiel who received the Lord’s message of hope and encouragement for His people, that He would restore them and bless them again, with the example of the cedar used to represent the people of God, restored and allowed to prosper once again. This message of hope and encouragement must be understood especially given the context that the prophet Ezekiel lived during the period of great humiliation and trials for the people of God, who have been scattered, crushed and driven away from their homeland.

And all these were caused by their own disobedience against God, their sinful and wicked ways, disregarding the Law and the commandments that God had given them, and instead, giving themselves to the worship of pagan idols and gods, and committing acts that were in violation of the Law and the Covenant that God has established with them. As a result, they had to suffer the consequences of their lack of faith and disobedience, and they were humiliated and uprooted from their ancestral lands, their cities destroyed and the Temple overturned.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, God wanted us all to see and know that He wants us to be reconciled with us, although we may have been sundered and separated from Him through sin. God’s love ultimately will overcome even the darkest sin and the greatest of obstacles and challenges, as long as we are willing to embrace the Lord and accept His love and compassionate mercy. Unfortunately, more frequently than not, we close ourselves off to the Lord and refuse to accept His generous love and mercy.

St. Paul mentioned this same truth when he spoke in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, our second reading passage today, reiterating how all of us although living in the body but we are separated from the Lord. And as long as we are separated and distant from Him, we will not be able to gain true joy, happiness and satisfaction that we can gain in the Lord alone. He also reminded us all the faithful that our every actions and deeds will be held against us if they have been contrary to the will of God, and these will determine our fate on the day of judgment.

That is why through today’s Scripture readings, God revealed to us just how wretched and pitiful our situation is being separated from Him and His love. That is why, just like the Israelites of old, who had suffered the consequences of their disobedience and sins, He reminded us all that ultimately, He still loves each and every one of us and wants us to be fully reconciled to Him, and to be restored to the graceful life that we all have been intended to enjoy and which is part of our assured inheritance.

Hence, He gave us all His own Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be His best and most perfect gift to all of us, to be the source of all of our Hope and to be our guiding Light in this world darkened by sin. Through Him, God has brought His kingdom into this world, to be ruled by His own Son, Our Lord and King, Who brought and gathered all of us together to Himself, and Who has united all of us to Himself by assuming our own human nature. That is why He has also established God’s kingdom in this world, by establishing the Church, that manifestation of the kingdom of God on Earth.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, what the prophet Ezekiel heard from the Lord regarding the cedar that the Lord picked to grow on a high mountain is fulfilled through Christ in His Church, our very own One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the one and only true Church that God Himself has established in this world, as the real and tangible representation of His reign and kingdom, as what the Lord explained in our Gospel today through the parable, of a great tree with its vast branches, upon which many animals and birds perched and made as its home.

The Church blessed and sanctified by Christ, has been established as the symbol of unity among all of us, God’s beloved people, who share through Him and with Him a bond of unity and love, by our shared faith and love for God, and by our partaking of the New Covenant that God Himself has established with us. All of us are members of His Body, the visible Body of Christ, the kingdom of God manifested in this world as the proof of God’s reign and His love for the whole entire world, and His desire to see all of us mankind reunited and reconciled with Him.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the words of the Scripture today, we have to remind ourselves the important aspects of the Church, that is we are all One Church, all united in a common faith and love for God, a Holy Church that is always focused on the Lord and always obeying His will, His Law and commandments, a Catholic Church that is Universal in our reach and coverage, in welcoming all peoples regardless of their background, their race and origin, to come towards the Lord just as the great tree in the parable became a haven for all living beings.

And lastly, we have to be an Apostolic Church, that means we have to be a Church that is always reaching out and speaking up the truth of God, in being missionary and faithful, in being genuine in our way of life and faith, so that all those who see us, hear us and witness our actions and works will then come to know the Lord through us, and they may then also come to believe in Him through us. This is a calling and mission that all of us as Christians have, as part of our shared, common baptism, that as members of God’s Church, His kingdom on earth, we ought to glorify Him and made Him known to all.

Let us all not forget the Great Commission that the Lord has given to all of His Apostles and disciples in the end of His earthly journey, that we all ought to go forth to the nations, proclaiming His truth and love, and make all to be believers and faithful just as we believe in Him, to make disciples of all the peoples of all the nations and to baptise them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is so that more and more people may come to be part of the ever growing and ever expanding Church, God’s kingdom on Earth.

Let us ask ourselves then, brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we have done our part and done as we should as members of this wonderful kingdom of God? Or have we instead turned people away from the Lord and His Church by our own actions, filled with sin and wickedness, with selfishness and evil? These are the things that we really need to question ourselves and discern as we consider our path going forward in life. Are we going to continue living our lives walking in the path of sin and evil? Or are we going to allow the Lord to transform our lives to be His faithful servants and disciples?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all renew our faith to the Lord and commit ourselves wholeheartedly from now on, that we may be ever closer to Him and be ever more devoted and faithful to Him in all things. And as part of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, let us all do whatever we can as part of His kingdom in this world, to call and bring ever more and more of our other brothers and sisters, to come to the Lord and be reconciled with Him, that everyone may come to know of God’s love and embrace Him as their Lord and Saviour, and be worthy together with all of us, to share in the divine and eternal banquet in Heaven.

May God bless us all and our every good works and endeavours, and may He strengthen each and every one of us with the courage and resolve to live ever more faithfully from now on, being good role models and inspirations of faith to one another. Amen.

Sunday, 13 June 2021 : Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 4 : 26-34

At that time, Jesus also said, “In the kingdom of God it is like this : a man scatters seed upon the soil. Whether he is asleep or awake, be it day or night, the seed sprouts and grows, he knows not how. The soil produces of itself : first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when it is ripe for harvesting, they take the sickle for the cutting : the time for the harvest has come.”

Jesus also said, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what shall we compare it? It is like a mustard seed which, when sown, is the smallest of all the seeds scattered upon the soil. But once sown, it grows up and becomes the largest of the plants in the garden, and even grows branches so big, that the birds of the air can take shelter in its shade.”

Jesus used many such stories, in order to proclaim the word to them in a way that they would be able to understand. He would not teach them without parables; but privately to His disciples He explained everything.

Sunday, 13 June 2021 : Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Corinthians 5 : 6-10

So we feel confident always. We know, that, while living in the body, we are exiled from the Lord, living by faith, without seeing; but we dare to think, that we would rather be away from the body, to go and live with the Lord. So, whatever we have to keep this house or lose it, we only wish to please the Lord.

Anyway, we all have to appear before the tribunal of Christ, for each one to receive what he deserves, for his good or evil deeds in the present life.

Sunday, 13 June 2021 : Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 91 : 2-3, 13-14, 15-16

It is good to give thanks to YHVH, to sing praise to Your Name, o Most High, to proclaim Your grace in the morning, to declare Your faithfulness at night.

The virtuous will flourish, like palm trees, they will thrive, like the cedars of Lebanon. Planted in the house of YHVH, they will prosper, in the courts of our God.

In old age, they will still bear fruit; they will stay fresh and green, to proclaim that YHVH is upright, “He is my Rock,” they say, “He never fails.”

Sunday, 13 June 2021 : Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ezekiel 17 : 22-24

Thus says YHVH : “At the top of the cedar, I will take one of its uppermost branches, a tender twig, and plant it. On a lofty, massive mountain, on a high mountain of Israel I will plant it. It will produce branches and bear fruit and become a magnificent cedar. Birds of all kinds will nest in it and find shelter in its branches.”

“And all the trees of the field shall know that I am YHVH : I, Who bring down the lofty tree and make the lowly tree tall. I will make the tree that is full of sap, wither, and the dry tree, bloom. I, YHVH, have spoken and this will I do.”