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Friday, June 11, 2021

Even in Little Things being at Home with God

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time:13 June 2021

Readings: Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34

(Picture courtesy: Jean-Marc Arakelian)

To listen to my audio reflections,  please click here 

1. Living in a liturgically rich month

In the liturgical calendar, the month of June is a significant one. In this month we celebrate a number of feasts either connected with the person of Jesus Christ - Corpus Christi, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Heart of Mary, or the saints of our Church, like Boniface, Anthony of Padua Aloysius Gonzaga, John Fisher, Thomas More, the birth of John the Baptist, Irenaeus, Peter, Paul, etc. These holy men who gave their lives totally to the service of faith and their fellow neighbour tell us a most essential thing, that they were in their earthly life were "at home with the Lord" (2 Cor 5:8). 

The times in which we are living today are full of uncertainties due to global illness. As the days pass in and pass out, we have been looking forward to a day when this uncertainty ends once and for all. Probably, many are tired not only of the whole situation that they are in but also sitting in their homes.  In this context, we have a beautiful key message from St Paul in his letter to the community in Corinth. He says, "So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him" (2 Cor 5:6-8). Let us see this in detail.

2. Readiness to take up good courage

St Paul invites us in these troubled times to take good courage, to walk by faith and be at home with the Lord. We must follow this advice of our dear saint, who put his trust completely in the Lord once he came to know whom he should follow. More than ever today we need "good courage" to face the uncertainties, ambiguities, fragility and vulnerability of our health and life on this earth. We need "good courage" when we are threatened by too many dark forces of evil in the form of negativity, falsehood, fake newsmakers and leaders and false soothsayers of our times. 

We need to cultivate "good courage" when the tragedies in our families, neighbours, friends have hit so badly, and we feel helpless and hopeless. St Thérèse of Lisieux teaches in her little way that we should perform each of our actions, even, or especially, the smallest ones and difficult ones with great love. In doing this, we draw closer to union with God and help to make the kingdom of God more visible on earth.  

3. Journeying by faith

The Word of God invites us to walk by faith,  in fact, to walk in the faith of our Fathers and Mothers. With the bad news everywhere, which is almost demolishing us, we need faith in our God, who is our Creator and Lord. We must have that a great sense of faith of St Paul as he says, "If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord" (Rom 14:8). Only a faith at least of "like a grain of mustard seed" as Jesus says could "move mountains" (Matthew 17:20). We may not have strong faith but must have a "good and clear faith in the Lord" to overcome the fragilities of our life that threaten us ceaselessly. 

In our lifetime, since our Baptism we must be spending thousands of hours of our precious time in prayer, meditation, attending liturgies, doing pious activities like, fasting and penance, novenas, adorations, pilgrimages, reading the scriptures, and so on and so forth. And if we do not do those things with great faith, or lose our faith doing such things, that means there is basically something wrong in us. Our success does not come purely from our own efforts and that our failures, likewise, are the results of our own hands. Our human condition is not determined by us, but the one who created us. 

4. Being at home with the Lord

 St Paul in his letter to the Philippians writes that "our citizenship is in heaven" (Phili 3:20). We are pilgrims here on this planet earth. Perhaps our life journey here might be a short one but need not be filled with drudgery and full of rat race. A sense of great reverence to God's presence here on earth, in our families and communities, will certainly help to understand that we are citizens of God's reign here on earth. This very feeling of our sense of God's presence will enable us to take a leave from this world to a new location which is our true home indeed when the time comes. 

So, every Christian is called to strive through God's grace, to obey His commands and follow the path of righteousness. With God's future rewards which are promised should be one's motivation.  In a sermon preached in Carthage in 419, St Augustine says, “The prize of our faithfulness is your God. He is what you will get, he is preparing himself as the reward of his worshippers … He is who is the reward of your faith and fidelity. You greedy misers, what will ever satisfy you if God himself doesn’t?” And again, “We shall see God. God himself will be our vision; the vision of God will be the reward of this faith.” (In Sermons, [The Works of Saint Augustine]19.5 & 58.13.)

5. Possibility of God's Reign through our faithfulness

God’s grace moves mysteriously in ways that we cannot comprehend or grasp. As we see in today's Gospel reading Mark 4:26-34 we plant seeds through our words and actions, but we need to remember that God is in control and not us. We are co-creators and collaborators in this endeavour of building God's reign here on earth. The reign of God is possible when we trust in God’s presence even when times are dark and difficult. We are called to go beyond human calculations, forecasts, tangible results, and to surrender to God’s plans and not be so caught up with our own. In this process of hurdles and hurt, we are invited to place ourselves in God’s loving hands and to allow Him to use us as He sees fit in the building of His reign of peace, justice, and love. 

 In the face of ceaseless frustrations and discouragement, we should never give up in our quest and commitment in living out the gospel values in our lives. The results may not be visible, certain and obvious but it's possible that we have no idea of how our words and actions are germinating and helping the Kingdom of God to grow. May the readings of today encourage and challenge us to continue to be faithful and to trust in God who cares and loves us so deeply. All the more in the sacraments He provides still more: the grace of faith and the courage we need to live in the world as children of God.

Questions for our Reflections:

1. How would you describe your true home with God?
2. If each of our actions is a seed that we plant, what type of garden is our life cultivating? 
3. In Today's Gospel passage, Jesus tells two stories about something called “the Kingdom of God.”  In fact, both the parables talk about the astonishing process of growth.  What do you think this “Kingdom of God” is?  
4. In what ways Sunday liturgical readings are challenging me? What does God wants me to do?  Am I willing to do it?”  

Prayer:

God, the Divine Sower, help us as your community to plant seeds of love and faith wherever we walk. Even if we never see the fruits we trust that You will bring the crops to harvest when the time is right. Grant that we may never be disheartened. We beseech, You, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live together in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  

- Olvin Veigas, SJ
11 June 2021

PS: Karnataka Jesuits are doing Covid related relief work in those places where they are based within the territory of Karnataka. I have been updating a blog under the heading SPANDANA where all our activities are documented: www.kjes-spandana.blogspot.com 

4 comments:

Diana said...

Simply amazing and outstanding reflections! Nice piece of work. Excellent enlightening words with beautiful picture. Thank you Olvin.

Unknown said...

Absolutely one of the best reflections! Very nice title that followed by richest contents.

Anonymous said...

Very nicely put, thank you Fr

lijiserin@gmail.com said...

Dear fr. Olvin, you are a blessing for us all.your courage and deep faith in God is reflected in your words.continue to inspire us,it can touch the life of many.
Thank you.