We are in extraordinary times. As we attempt to exit our lockdowns, a grim picture is emerging. Some are exiting without loved ones, many without jobs. Familiar shops and cafes that were closed will never reopen. Social and economic issues are growing alongside this pandemic. This extraordinary time is proving to be more difficult and increasingly more challenging. The next 6 months, at least, will be very tough. This now, is our world.
“The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world”. (Today’s Gospel)
We all have a seed of good in each of us. When church doors closed, we were left outside. We were unable to go for Mass. “Mass” is from the Latin words, “Ite, missa est”, proclaimed when we are dismissed at the end of our Catholic liturgy urging us to go forth into the world; sent into the field to grow as wheat sown by Christ. In these extraordinary times, the doors were closed to let the kingdom of heaven out.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.”
After our last mass before the lockdown, we are this small seed sown by Christ into the challenging conditions of the field. We ourselves are not spared the hardships. But hardships tend to take away, very gradually and reluctantly, every dependence we have in this world to leave us just dependent on God. Life experiences are fertile soil for the good in us to grow. Tough experiences, especially bitter ones can stay with us a long time. But in this time, our spiritual life is fermented and the seed of good germinates in us.
These are indeed extraordinary times. The church doors are closed but the mass, the source and summit of our faith, can be celebrated in the harsh realities of these challenging times. The pandemic has repeatedly told us that all humanity is one and we must look out for one another. Our faith tells us that we are part of this one Body of Christ. Our prayers and worship take the practical form of little acts of love and compassion. Little acts, individual persons, small seeds, collectively grow to become the biggest tree to shelter and give rest to many people who are challenged.
This is the kingdom of God made present to our world today. We are this wheat to give food to the hungry. We are this seed growing in our own hardships to become a tree for others to shelter. We are the church, always meant to be outside the building to be in the lives of others. These closed doors have left us so.
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time