The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
2015 – Cycle B
Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 92; 2 Corinthians 15:6-10; Mark 4:26-34
“I will take from the crest of the cedar,
from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot…” [Ezekiel 17:22]
The last time I encountered this passage from Ezekiel was over 15 years ago at Albany Medical Center. I have not thought about it all these years. A sprig; that supple, shiny, fresh green end of a plant.
I believe his name was Anthony. Anthony was about seven years old. He died. I left to prepare for Mass. Within a half hour of Anthony’s death, his family walked into the room and together we heard this passage from Ezekiel. We all knew Anthony was that topmost tender shoot that was broken off. This was not how the story was to have ended. But where was it to continue?
The walk of faith uses the language of bearing fruit, flourishing, sprouting and growing, ripening. The Scriptures are replete with the images of spring, planting and harvest.
Yet an experience like that of Anthony’s death can often destroy faith and a family and where is the story to continue? As a priest in our encounters, whether in hospital rooms, at the bedsides of the dying, with couples preparing for the baptism of their children or in marriage preparation; you most often never know how the story continues or if you have made any difference. It is like the man who scatters seed on the land having no control once the seed has left his hand. In all honesty it can be a very challenging and discouraging experience. You often wonder why you continue the act of planting.
“We walk by faith”. But the walk of faith is not easy because we do not see. We do not see the outcome for the seed; some seed will die, some will be eaten by birds, and some will be blown away. And those that do take root(?) by the time of ripening we have walked into another field, another phase of our lives, we have moved on… Like seeds, this happens with individuals and families. I have to wonder what happened to Anthony’s family.
Would it make a difference if we were able to see the outcome?
But then, would there be a need for faith, …for trust, …for God?
When the parables interact with life you do not always find what you might expect.
What or who is the tender, torn, shoot in your life?
What has happened to the end of that story, if as yet ended?
Where is your faith?