Liturgy of the Sunday

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Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time


First Reading

Ezekiel 17,22-24

"The Lord Yahweh says this: From the top of the tall cedar tree, from the highest branch I shall take a shoot and plant it myself on a high and lofty mountain. I shall plant it on the highest mountain in Israel. It will put out branches and bear fruit and grow into a noble cedar tree. Every kind of bird will live beneath it, every kind of winged creature will rest in the shade of its branches. And all the trees of the countryside will know that I, Yahweh, am the one who lays the tall tree low and raises the low tree high, who makes the green tree wither and makes the withered bear fruit. I, Yahweh, have spoken, and I will do it." '

Psalmody

Psalm 91

Antiphon

It is good to praise your name, O Most High.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord
to make music to your name, O Most High,

to proclaim your love in the morning
and your truth in the watches of the night,

on the ten-stringed lyre and the lute,
with the murmuring sound of the harp.

Your deeds, O Lord, have made me glad;
for the work of your hands I shout with joy.

O Lord, how great are your works!
How deep are your designs!

The foolish man cannot know this
and the fool cannot understand.

Though the wicked spring up like grass
and all who do evil thrive;

they are doomed to be eternally destroyed.
But you, Lord, are eternally on high.

See how your enemies perish;
all doers of evil are scattered.

To me you give the wild-ox's strength;
you anoint me with the purest oil.

My eyes looked in triumph on my foes;
my ears heard gladly of their fall.

The just will flourish like the palm-tree
and grow like a Lebanon cedar.

Planted in the house of the Lord
they will flourish in the courts of our God,

still bearing fruit when they are old,
still full of sap, still green,

to proclaim that the Lord is just.
In him, my rock, there is no wrong.

Second Reading

2 Corinthians 5,6-10

We are always full of confidence, then, realising that as long as we are at home in the body we are exiled from the Lord, guided by faith and not yet by sight; we are full of confidence, then, and long instead to be exiled from the body and to be at home with the Lord. And so whether at home or exiled, we make it our ambition to please him. For at the judgement seat of Christ we are all to be seen for what we are, so that each of us may receive what he has deserved in the body, matched to whatever he has done, good or bad.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 4,26-34

He also said, 'This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters 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, at once he starts to reap because the harvest has come.' He also said, 'What can we say that the kingdom is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which, at the time of its sowing, 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 by themselves.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

Reading the Gospels, we immediately realize how central the theme of the "kingdom of God" is in Jesus' preaching. Jesus uses any means, including the literary genre of parables, so that his listeners understand the coming of the Kingdom and its work in the lives of men and women. The parables, therefore, do not want to hide the mystery of the kingdom. On the contrary, they try to involve the audience more effectively through clear images.
The first parable speaks of an event that the listeners know well: sowing. When finished sowing, the farmer waits patiently until harvest time. The earth spontaneously ("automatically," says the Greek text) bears fruit. The time of harvest will come and the farmer will be able to amass the harvest of his fields. Jesus draws the attention of the listeners to the "work" that the seed does, by its internal energy, from the time of sowing until the maturity of the plant. There is no doubt that Jesus wants to bring comfort to his listeners. We should probably think of the Christian community that Mark was addressing, and that was living in very difficult times of persecution. No doubt believers were wondering where the power of the Gospel was, and why evil and difficulties seemed to win over everything. Sometimes we too, although in conditions different from those of the community of Mark, think similar things. The Lord ensures us that evil will not prevail. Jesus does not intend to belittle our efforts; nor does he invite us to sleep and rest in the belief that the Kingdom grows and develops anyway. The Gospel only points out that the Kingdom has been already sown on the earth and the sovereignty of God over evil is now final.
The following parable continues to compare the kingdom of God to a small seed, even the smallest of all: that of mustard. We do not do great things because we are powerful or great. In the Kingdom of God exactly the opposite occurs from what happens among people. "Who wants to be first among you must be slave of all," Jesus says to his disciples. When the tiny mustard seed grows, it becomes a large tree and the birds can rest on it. Jesus says that the Kingdom of God follows the same pattern of this small seed. Therefore, the Kingdom does not impose its external power. On the contrary, it chooses the path of weakness to affirm the explosive energy of love, and favours the small, the weak, the sick and the marginalized to demonstrate the extraordinary power of mercy. Where the Kingdom comes, the hungry are filled, the afflicted comforted, the poor welcomed, the sick healed, the lonely consoled, those in prison visited and enemies are loved. The Kingdom is where there is love. You could say that you do not go to Heaven through works of charity; rather you are already in heaven when you live charity.
The new aspect of the Gospel preaching is that Jesus identifies himself in the kingdom. Jesus is the seed sown in the land of people, a small, weak, ill-treated, abused, discarded, or rather thrown out seed. Yet, once this seed thrown to the ground died, it was resurrected and through the disciples, his mystical body has extended its branches to the ends of the earth.