11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus uses the phrase ‘kingdom of God’ almost 100 times. It’s a central part of his teaching. So "what is the Kingdom of God?” is a question we should be able to answer. It is the place where God rules, where God’s will is done. So, first it is Our Lord himself. In him we see the Kingdom of God because he is the one who perfectly fulfils God’s will. He is God’s will. We also see the kingdom in the church, the gathering of those who through faith and the sacraments respond to Jesus’ call "follow me". In the church, God’s will is seen, the kingdom of God is glimpsed. The kingdom of God is also to be found in each of us, individually, as we unite ourselves to Christ and his church and become people in whom God’s will is done. In the Church on earth and in our lives the revealing of God’s kingdom is often damaged by sin but in heaven the kingdom is fully present where Our Lady and the saints (those who did God’s will on earth) are united with Our Lord. Only at the end of time when God’s will is accomplished and all are united in Christ will the kingdom will be fully revealed and fully present.
So then we can come to Our Lord’s parable, just the first one, expressing what this kingdom is like, how it works. I say just the first one, because it is Jesus who is God, speaking, we can never on earth fully understand the meaning of what he says. Beware of the person who says ‘this is what Jesus means’. Each word, each parable of Our Lord’s is inexhaustible source of prayer and meditation.
The man throwing the seed on the land is Our Lord. Sowing his seed in us. The seed is his word, the word of life, indeed it is himself (I think we catch a glimpse of the Eucharist, of holy communion here, the Lord giving himself, sown for a harvest). The man’s sleep and waking reminds us of Christ’s death and resurrection, the paschal mystery by which our Saviour makes it possible for us to receive the seed and for it to grow, the paschal mystery which is made present in this Holy Mass. And this seed, which is the Word of Life, grows gradually, day and night, through good times and bad, through times of prayer and times of temptation, through times of peace and times of persecution. But it’s growth is assured.
Finally if the man is Jesus what can the parable mean when it says ‘the seed is growing he knows not how’. Jesus of course does know, he it is who makes the growth possible, but some of the early Church writers suggest that Jesus uses this image to make clear to us our free will. The Lord sows, he makes it possible for us to have faith, he makes it grow, but we are free, we must co-operate if fruit is to be brought forth and so it is also us who brings it forth.