[17 June 2018] Ez 17:22-24 • Ps 92 • 2 Cor 5:6-10 • Mk 4:26-34
Plant the seed then be patient
Daily, the newspapers and TV or radio newscasts are filled with stories of murder, kidnapping, rape, drug abuse, flash floods, people without homes due to eviction, graft and corruption, abuse and death of overseas workers, etc. Sometimes, when we see all these, we tend to ask, “Are we making any progress in our community, in society and in the world? Is there more evil happening than good? If so, why does God not do anything? Is God’s silence a proof that he does not exist?” More often than not, we do not get satisfactory answers. Thus at times we become impatient, depressed or even lose faith in our fellow humans and God. This is even more so when we are directly affected by those problems.
Often times, we fail to view problems from the proper perspective and thus fail to come up with an objective and comprehensive solution. This is so since we are either too close to the problem, are ourselves involved in it or we are the problem. Obviously, there is a need to distance ourselves from a problem.
As human beings, we are equipped with spiritual faculties that allow us to distance ourselves from the immediate and the concrete. We can recall lessons learned and we can explore future possibilities.
Our perspective can even be made much wider if we seriously take the reality that God has intervened in human history. This way, we can view things from God’s perspective. And this is what Jesus wants us to do when he gave us the Parables of the Growing Seed and the Mustard Seed (Mk 4:26-34). The first tells us that the Reign of God will definitely come about as its seed has a built-in power to grow to maturity while the second teaches that his Reign, though of humble beginnings, is destined for greatness.
God’s Reign is one of truth, justice, love, and peace. But often enough, what we see and experience in our society is the opposite. Everything has a price, including and especially truth and justice. Whose truth eventually prevails, say, in media or the courts, is based on who paid more. Justice is for the rich. Love? There is so much hatred around—between husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, neighbors, different tribal groups and peoples. Peace? Yes. That of the cemetery.
There is one thing though about God’s Reign that we should be conscious of: it is already here but at the same time, is not yet. Already here because Christ had established it with his coming. Not yet, because truth, justice, love, and peace have yet to permeate all aspects of human activities. God is continually at work and in due time his Reign will be established in its fullness.
But this is not God’s work alone. He has asked for our help to bring about its growth and spread. However, this role must be properly understood, lest we be deluded to believe that on our shoulders alone lies the responsibility to make the world what God wants it to be. Along this line, a story is told of Pope John XXIII. Beset by a host of problems, he could not sleep at night. One night he had an inspiration in the form of a dream: “John,” a voice sounded, “don't take yourself too seriously. You must remember that I am still the head of the church, not you.” After that, his insomnia disappeared.
We must realize that we are only God’s cooperators in his work. We want truth to reign supreme, let us plant the seed of truth. We want justice and love, let us plant their seeds. But once planted, we must water and fertilize them as well as clear them of weeds. If there is truth, justice and love, then peace is not too far away since these three are its preconditions. In short, we must first live those Kingdom values before we can convincingly ask others to do likewise. So by their fruits, you will know them (Mt 7:20).
Finally, God wants us to have patience. We must not expect that because we have set ourselves to God’s work, because we have planted the seeds of truth, justice, love and peace then the world will change immediately and automatically. For like a seed, things and causes take time to grow and need to be nurtured. There will be pains and sorrows. But like God, we must be patient before the harvest.
A big task indeed lies ahead of us. But work we must. At home, in school, at our workplace, in our community. And as we work, let us be patient. In his own time, God will bring our work, his work, to fruition.
VERDANT PASTURES: Reflections on the Sunday Readings
Fr. Alfonso E. Carino, OMI
St. Pauls, 7708 St. Paul Road, San Antonio Villlage, 1203 Makati City, Philippines