The Prophet Ezekiel makes an oracle saying that the Lord God will take from the crest of the cedar, and tear off from its topmost branches a tender shoot, which he will plant on the high and lofty mountain of Israel. In that oracle he says that it shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar, beneath which, the birds of every kind shall dwell (Ezekiel 17:22-24). By prophesying after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, the prophet Ezekiel announces to the exiles the power of God, who will allow a new creation, to emerge over the ruins of Israel.
By saying that all the trees of the field shall know that the Lord brings low the high tree, lifts high the lowly tree, withers up the green tree, and makes the withered tree bloom, the prophet wants his people to know that omnipotent power is in God’s hands. He is the Lord of history. The Lord who has spoken, does what he has decreed. In another place, God will say, “Learn then that I, I alone, am God, and there is no god besides me. It is I who bring both death and life, I who inflict wounds and heal them, and from my hand there is no rescue (Deuteronomy 32:39).”
In this oracle, the prophet warns against humans taking their own destiny in their own hands, rather than seeking and following the will of God. The situation he was addressing was the one in which in Israel Zedekiah took Israel’s destiny in his own hands and breached the oath of loyalty he had sworn to the king of Babylon. This latter brought about the end of the monarchic state. The political maneuvering went contrary to God’s own plan at the time. It is God, the master of history, who will bring about at the appropriate time, the rebirth of his people, Israel. It is God, himself, the master of history who brings about the emergence of his kingdom on earth, irrespective of our own efforts.
In our gospel reading, today, Jesus teaches us, by telling the crowd how the reign of God will be. He uses the allegory of a man who scatters seed on the ground. That man goes to bed and gets up day after day. Through it all the seed sprouts and grows without his knowing how it all happens. In the growth process, the soil produces of itself first the blade, then the ear, finally the ripe wheat in the ear. During the harvest time, when the crop is ready, that man wields the sickle, because the harvest time was ready.
In this explanation, Jesus wants us to know that it is God alone who is in charge. St. Paul will use this to address the problem of disunity, rivalry and jealousy in the Corinthian community. He would ask, “What is Apollos, after all, and what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, just as the Lord assigned each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth (1 Corinthians 3:5-6).”
Jesus continues to speak to us about the reign of God. Our role in its coming is very insignificant. Jesus tells us that it is like a mustard seed which, when planted in the soil, is the smallest of all the earth’s seeds, yet once it is sown, springs up to become the largest of shrubs, with branches big enough for the birds of the sky to build nest in its shade. Through these explanations, Jesus wants us to strive and work to enter the reign of God, through faith and good works.
St. Paul wants us to be confident now that, the kingdom will be ours. He reminds us that while we are in the body, we are away from the Lord. For that reason, we should walk by faith and not by sight, so that we could be away from the body, and be at home with the Lord. In that way, we will please him. By being with the Lord, by faith now, we will be doing good. May the good Lord give us the spirit and grace to put our lives in his own hands and please him, at all times.