In the natural sense, they reminded me of the view out my back window this past winter. In my garden I saw nothing but snow and ice on the plot of land where I’ve always planted my tomato plants. And as I looked at our old fig tree, which can be traced back a hundred years to my wife’s Italian grandparents, I wondered if it would survive the bitter winds and the ice building up around its roots despite my careful planning to protect it last fall. Now I recall those thoughts and many more that I had this past winter, as I look out at my garden on this beautiful day in June.
Naturally, the readings encourage me as the new growing season begins because they remind me how my tomato plants matured and grew though the weeks of my watering, weeding, and harvesting. And now my fig tree is spouting new leaves and will be bearing new fruit in the weeks to come. Spiritually, the readings remind me how God’s kingdom includes the planting of His word in us so that we may bear much fruit and “it shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar” (Ezekiel 17:23). As we mature in the Lord, we “shall flourish like the palm tree” and “shall bear fruit even in old age” (Ps 92 verses 13 & 15). The evidence of our growth in the Lord is how we use the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in upbuilding the community. We become more and more like the Lord, as described in our second reading to the Corinthians from Paul, when we allow the word of God to grow in our hearts. We desire more of the Lord in our lives as we “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). Our lifelong goal is “to go home to the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8) and our eternal destiny will be judged by what we “did in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor 5:10b).
Finally Jesus, through St. Mark’s Gospel, explains in parables this Kingdom of God to the agrarian people of the time. He shares with them imagery which makes clear how they can grow in His Kingdom. He shows them that the children of God are like the plant that yields fruit from the “scattered seed” (Mk 4:26), and like the tiny mustard seed that becomes “the largest of plants” (Mk 4:32). As our Theme for the week says, “Our faith is deepened when we allow the word of God to grow in our hearts.” And this week’s Promise, “They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God,” will be fulfilled in our lifetime and for generations to come, as God continues to plant the seed and sow the fruit of His own harvest in our lives. Believe it, brothers and sisters, that the Lord will “make the withered tree bloom” (Ez 17:24b) and that the Lord will make our withered lives bloom if “we allow the word of God to grow in our hearts” every day. Know that the more we live our covenant pledges, the more fruit we will produce to the Lord’s delight and pleasure! Amen!