Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
How does a tree grow? The scientists can give us their answers, but the miracle of life on our earth, in all its dazzling complexity and variety is exactly that ‑ a miracle. God is responsible for the miracle of Nature and growth ‑ how, we don’t know, but we accept God's guiding hand as a fact of our faith. This mysterious growth in Nature is used as a parable today, for the life of the Church and the Kingdom of God. Just as a seed, planted and watered, turns by miraculous processes into something different and bigger and beautiful, so the seed of the Gospel will grow into something else, by some means we can never fully understand. And that is the grace of God, encouraging, prompting and helping all men and women of good will to swell the coming Kingdom of our God.
Notes for Readers
First Reading. Ezekiel 17:22‑24
This is a parable, though not as obviously as the Gospel. God is talking about his chosen people once more, and how he will protect and nourish them on his Holy Mountain. The Lord has control over the weak and strong of this earth ‑ it is in his power to make great kingdoms small and small ones great. The agricultural image is there to present this in a simple and easy to remember way. When reading a parable like this, it always helps if you picture or imagine the events described. The story is meant to paint a picture in the minds of the listeners, so if the reader has it there first, this will surely help. Picture God the gardener, watching the growth of this shoot taken from the top of the cedar. This reading builds up gradually to the last line, announcing the power and intention of God. Keep this “shape” in mind as you read. Keep a special warmth and enthusiasm in your voice for the lines “every kind of bird will live beneath it, every winged creature rest in the shade of its branches”, and picture the heat of an East Mediterranean spring or summer as you do so!
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
Paul is still discussing the relationship between this life and the “life of the world to come”. While before he was talking about the enduring of hardships in this life, here he talks with clear impatience about the life to come. He can't wait to be “exiled from the body” in order to enjoy his home with the Lord. Be very clear in your own mind about the two exiles: life here and now is “exile from the Lord” because we have to rely on faith; eventually we will be with the Lord, and we will “go by sight” rather than going by faith ‑ this will be our exile from the Body. This all comes out in the first sentence, which is very complicated. As you look at this sentence see the phrases “exiled from the Lord” and “exiled from the body” as the alternatives to be stressed. If you emphasise these phrases, everything else should fall into place. The rest of the reading is reasonably straightforward in comparison!