11th Sunday, Year B, 13 June, 2021: Ezekiel 17:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34
Comparing the Kingdom of God to a planted field, Jesus is describing a process that is both organic and out of my control. Certainly, I can choose to frustrate the process or cultivate it–or just ignore it; but I cannot make it happen. Jesus describes a planting that comes to fruition, reminding me that no matter how much I frustrate or neglect the growth, I cannot stop it. It’s the Kingdom of God—it’s not my kingdom, my project.
And that’s the good news.
The bad news is how often we Christians have tried to force it, to direct the outcome, to domesticate it, make it “succeed,” reducing it to our comfort zone. No matter how sincere or well-intentioned such attempts, hitching ideologies, political clout, prestige or influence to the Kingdom of God, may render an institution influential or buy it longevity; they cannot hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom. They can only replace the Kingdom of God with our pathetic knock-offs.
But because it is God’s Kingdom, intimations of it illumine us where it wills: at a deathbed, in a soup kitchen, celebrating the sacraments, around a dinner table—and necessarily among fallible human beings.
Another image Jesus uses for the Kingdom of God is the banquet.
Could we ever think that the host of a banquet is in control and the invited guests were in his power? What sort of celebration could that be?!! A shared meal is a gracious space in which the roles of giver and receiver are constantly exchanged. It represents and strengthens a kinship, a relationship that, like the fertile field, develops organically, enlarging, enriching both guest and host. It’s out of our hands.
Do I really want the status quo perpetuated into infinity or do I need the fullness of life?