Audio Sermons

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    There are a couple of things we can learn about the Kingdom of God from
    these two short parables that Jesus gave as we heard them in the gospel; the
    first parable is about a man who sows mustard seed in a field and the other is
    about a woman who mixed yeast with three measures of flour. In both cases
    someone takes something that is very small and uses it in such a way that it
    becomes much larger, more noticeable, and of far greater use. In the first
    parable it is mustard seed which is very tiny but when planted in the ground
    grows into a large bush. In the second case it is yeast, which is also very small,
    but when added to three measures of flour makes the whole thing rise so that it
    can be baked into bread.
    So what exactly is it that we learn from these parables. The first is that the
    kingdom of God begins with and is often made up of very small things that are
    easy to overlook. If mustard seed or yeast were on the ground where you are
    walking you might never notice it or feel it as you walked over it. Even if you
    did you probably wouldn’t recognize it and would keep it on walking.
    The second thing we learn is that it takes time for the kingdom of God to
    grow into something. The tiny mustard seed takes time to become the bush
    large enough for the birds to use for nesting. It takes time for the yeast to cause
    the bread dough to rise into a loaf that can be baked.
    These two things present people with a challenge. The first is that the
    kingdom of God, as it is here on earth, is easy to overlook and many people do

    because it doesn’t command their attention at least not in the way that they
    think it should if it comes from God, right? They think, that if it belongs to God
    then it should be something too big to ignore, too obvious to be indifferent
    toward, too fantastic to disregard.
    Well, it’s not a new attitude. Jesus faced it which is why he gave the parables
    we heard today. Many of Jesus’ actions were ordinary ones; preaching, eating
    with people, teaching his disciples, going to the synagogue on the Sabbath,
    walking the roads between towns with his apostles, and things like that. And
    even his works of power were not usually overwhelming; healing a man with a
    withered arm, restoring the hearing to someone who was deaf, cleansing
    someone with leprosy; marvelous events and powerful too, but not
    overpowering and sometimes missed by the crowd. It wasn’t what many
    people expected, even wanted, including John the Baptist. He wanted more
    from Jesus and greater things too and faster as well. What Jesus was doing was
    too small and too easy to overlook which is why he sent his disciples to Jesus
    asking him: Are you he who is to come or do we look for another?
    So it is easy to overlook the things that are part of the kingdom of God,
    including what we are doing now. To some what we are doing here is nothing
    special, nothing significant, just some music, hymns, Bible readings, sermon,
    and communion with wafers and wine. What is easy to overlook is that every
    little thing we do here is immensely pleasing to God. Every attempt at music, no
    matter how poorly we sing, is pleasing to God. Every heart that strives to listen
    to the word of God and put it into practice is pleasing to God. Every offering is
    pleasing to God. Every heartfelt sign of peace to a family member or stranger is
    pleasing to God. Every communion received with a humble, grateful spirit is

    pleasing to God because all these are part of Jesus’ gift of himself and us to his
    heavenly Father and there is nothing more pleasing to God than that.
    These things may be easy for people to overlook but God never does
    including the things that flow from it that are also part of the Kingdom of God
    that allow it to grow; our support to the poor and needy, our teaching young
    people what is right and good in the sight of God, our care for the sick and
    homebound, the friendships that are being built in every group here in the
    parish, the marriages and families that are encouraged by being part of a
    community of disciples that values marriage and family life even with all their
    challenges because they have been given to the human family by God for our
    well-being.
    I will admit that none of this is overpowering or flashy or attention grabbing.
    Some people might say that all these things that are part of the kingdom of God
    are no big deal, and you know what, they are right, Thank God. Yes, thank God.
    You see, God has set the bar low for being part of the Kingdom of God so that it
    isn’t out of the reach of anyone. Let me say that again. God has set the bar low
    for being part of the Kingdom of God so that it isn’t out of the reach of anyone.
    Anyone can be part of the Kingdom of God because the bar is set so low by God.
    Love God and love neighbor. Feed the hungry, visit the sick, keep holy the
    Sabbath, forgive trespasses, speak honestly welcome the stranger, act justly,
    especially toward the poor, honor your father and mother, take care of the
    elderly, say prayers, express thanks.
    Now there is more, of course, but none of it is complicated. It’s all small
    stuff, to us. But we make a great mistake if we overlook them because, to God
    every one of these things is huge.