ELEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B
2 Corinthians 5:6-10
By Fr. Euly B. Belizar, Jr.
The late Carlos P. Romulo was a diminutive man compared to the usual Western men he used to work with at the U.N. It is told that in 1948 a deputy USSR foreign minister, Andrei Vishinsky, once challenged Romulo’s credentials, looking down on him: “You’re just a little man from a little country.” Romulo fired back: “It is the duty of the little Davids of this world to fling the pebbles of truth in the eyes of blustering Goliaths and force them to behave!” Vishinsky was speechless.
Ezekiel the prophet in the first reading tells us how even the God of Israel prefers to build his people out of a small remnant called the ‘anawim’, that is, materially poor, persecuted people who totally depended on him. He compares them to “a tender shoot” planted on mountain heights and growing into a majestic cedar tree where birds and winged creatures dwell.
In the gospel Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a seed that grows. The point is that no human being is responsible for the details and process of such growth. What is more, no human being notices the process too. Then he compares also the kingdom of God to a mustard seed that starts small but becomes the largest of shrubs. I used to plant the mustasa vegetable as a boy in a school garden. I was impressed by how little its seed was and how the plant would grow so much bigger. It made me rethink about looking down on small people or small things. They could become so much greater than their size.
The message of the Gospel is twofold.
One, God’s kingdom is ultimately God’s work; we may be its instruments but it is he who runs the show. It is said that Pope St John XXIII, as a new pope, couldn’t sleep. Then he had a dream in which he heard Jesus saying: “John, relax. Don’t forget it is still my Church and I’m in charge.” Since then he calmed down and learned to sleep again.
Two, God’s efforts may seem small and slow but they are real. For instance, it’s so easy to give up on the world or the country today as hopeless because of so much evil we witness or hear about. But we don’t notice good people continuing to care for others, parents sacrificing for their children, children studying hard to help their families rise from poverty. They may seem humble and so simple. But from their humility and simplicity come huge successes.
St Paul’s advice in the second reading is our proper attitude as Christians: “We walk by faith, not by sight…This being so, we make it our aim to please him whether we are with him or away from him.” Once I saw a small child put his small hand in his father’s hand. Alone, he would not dare walk on any street. But with his small hand holding his father’s huge hand he felt strong as they walked on the streets.
As we journey through life faith challenges us always to rely on our Father in whose hands we will be able to achieve our cherished dreams as we walk in pilgrimage on earth, including fulfilling the most profound of them—reaching the kingdom of heaven.