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Scripture Reflections

Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time – June 16

Ezekiel 17:22-24
2 Corinthians 5:6-10
Mark 4:26-34

By Msgr. Robert H. Aucoin

You may read about people who invest a little bit of money in a stock and how that stock grows in value over the year. For example, if you bought 100 shares of Golden Arches in 1965, that value has grown exponentially over the years. But then, look at Christianity. There was a single Jesus along with 12 disciples, some of whom were not too bright. Now, there are about 1.39 billion Catholics.

That example can help us understand the notion of growth. I unfortunately am gifted with a black thumb and am seldom successful at growing. Watching something grow is fascinating. We see buds that eventually become leaves. We see light green on an evergreen, and eventually the light green darkens as the limbs grow.

In the gospel Jesus speaks a parable about a small seed growing into the largest of plants. But what makes small seeds grow? The answer is simple: attention. Attention to the earth; attention to the quality of the seed; attention to the watering and feeding; attention to details.

You realize that children require the same amount of attention. You care for them; watch them to ensure nothing injurious happens; feed them the right food so that they grow properly. The list is endless.

But for children to grow, there is even more. Actually, for the growth of people there is even more. Beyond physical growth, spiritual growth is necessary. Spiritual growth cannot happen unless the seed is planted and nurtured. God works every day in our lives.

God works in us. However, and this is a huge however, we need to be fertile soil. We need to make room for him in our lives. We need to make sure that the weeds in our lives are removed, especially those weeds that may look good but are weeds, nonetheless.

Sometimes, too, you need to water and fertilize the lives of someone in your life. Your spouse may be a lazy Catholic; your children may have put church on hold or at least on the back burner; your relative who always was a church-going Catholic has become lukewarm especially after her own kids have grown, and she no longer feels compelled to do the “Catholic thing.” Even in our post-pandemic world, so many Catholics have transitioned from fervent to tepid to cold. At these moments, when the person no longer hears the inner invitations from God, you need to be God’s human voice cultivating that needed growth.

You may say something like: “Well, they are big people now and have to make their own choices.” That’s true. But, if a spouse is driving recklessly or if a child seems lost or desolate, or if a relative is making a bad health decision, do we not often intervene or speak up and try to point the person in the right direction. Just as you may be a voice of awareness or conscience, so too perhaps you could be God’s voice calling the other person to spiritual growth and maturity.

Spiritual growth does not happen all by itself. Divine intervention supplemented by human intervention can make assure spiritual growth. Make sure that you tend to your spiritual growth and the spiritual growth of those whom you love.

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