Scripture of the Week

DAILY SCRIPTURES

Reflection on the DAILY SCRIPTURES can be found at the following links:

'Our Daily Prayer' - Jesuit Communications (Australia)
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Commentaries on the Daily Readings from SACREDSPACE (Ireland)
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Readings and Reflections on the day's Scripture (US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
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Daily Readings and Reflections (Passionist Fathers - USA)
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Commentary on the Gospel Reading (Dominican Fathers - Ireland)
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Daily Gospel Reflections from Evangelisation Brisbane
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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES

Reflect on the Sunday Scriptures with:

Fr John McKinnon's Sunday Gospel Reflections
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Fr. John Thornhill
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Majellan Media Gospel Reflections
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GOSPEL AND REFLECTION

ELEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B

First Reading – Ezekiel 17:22-24

I have made the small tree great.

The Lord says this:

‘From the top of the cedar,
from the highest branch I will take a shoot
and plant it myself on a very high mountain.
I will plant it on the high mountain of Israel.
It will sprout branches and bear fruit,
and become a noble cedar.
Every kind of bird will live beneath it,
every winged creature rest in the shade of its branches.
And every tree of the field will learn that I, the Lord, am the one
who stunts tall trees and makes the low ones grow,
who withers green trees and makes the withered green.
I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.’

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 91:2-3. 13-16. R. see v.2

(R.) Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.

Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:6-10

Whether we are living in the body or exiled from it, we are intent on pleasing the Lord.

We are always full of confidence when we remember that to live in the body means to be exiled from the Lord, going as we do by faith and not by sight – we are full of confidence, I say, and actually want to be exiled from the body and make our home with the Lord. Whether we are living in the body or exiled from it, we are intent on pleasing him. For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good or bad.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia, alleluia!

The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;

all who come to him will live for ever.

Alleluia!

Gospel – Mark 4:26-34

The mustard seed, the smallest of all the seeds, grows into the biggest shrub of all.

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time; he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’

He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

Gospel Reflection

The first of the parables in today’s gospel reading has no parallel in the other gospels. It compares God’s reign to a trusting sower who scatters the seed by day, sleeps by night, and simply observes the “earth produce of itself” until it is time to harvest the grain. The sower’s actions of scattering, sleeping, rising, and going in with the sickle are paralleled by “not-knowing how’” the seed is transformed into grain. We may, in our times, have a more sophisticated, more scientific understanding of the process of growth. We have no less reason to stand in awe at the wonder of it all.

In an era of urbanization, of supermarket chains and online shopping even for groceries, we can easily lose sight of the source of food and the miracle of food production. This little parable might serve as a reminder of the goodness of the Earth and of the God who sustains our planetary home. It might inspire us to contemplate the myriad ways in which the Earth speaks to us of God and God’s empire or kin-dom. At another level, we might ask about the identity of the sower. We might question how the sower’s actions and attitudes provide an image of God’s reign. Is it in the sower’s trusting that all will be well while “not-knowing”? Is it in the observation that the grain is ripe for the harvest? Is it in the prompt action to bring in the harvest? The sower’s “not-knowing” might resonate with us in our “not knowing” all we would like to know about dealing with the spread of the viruses that infecting our world. Parables are meant to tease their hearers/readers. They are open-ended and challenging.

The second parable appears in all three synoptic gospels. Matthew and Luke both parallel the mustard seed parable with a parable about a woman mixing yeast into flour. Mark, in contrast, juxtaposes his mustard seed parable with that of the trusting sower. Mustard seeds were tiny, although they were not the smallest of seeds and have never been known to become the largest of shrubs. The idea that God’s reign provides shelter for the birds to make their nests is a challenging one at a time when so many species are becoming extinct precisely because their habitats are being destroyed by human activity.

Some scholars have pointed out that the mustard seed was a weed. To compare God’s reign with a weed may have brought a smile or two. It would certainly have exercised the minds of Jesus’ audience. Maybe Jesus’ disciples needed encouragement even in the early stages of the Galilean ministry. Maybe the curious and hostile needed a reminder to take this movement seriously since extraordinary things can come from the most inauspicious beginnings. Opposition to Jesus had surfaced at the outset. Mark’s community may also have been experiencing opposition and feeling the need for the wisdom that comes from a carefully crafted and perfectly timed story.

Sr Veronica Lawson rsm

© The scriptural quotations are taken from the Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton Longman and Todd Ltd and Doubleday & Co Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. The English translation of the Psalm Responses, the Alleluia and Gospel Verses, and the Lenten Gospel Acclamations, and the Titles, Summaries, and Conclusion of the Readings, from the Lectionary for Mass © 1997, 1981, 1968, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.