June 14, 2024

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe first reading for Mass this weekend is from the Book of Ezekiel, who is regarded as one of the great Hebrew prophets. Not interested in themselves, but only in imparting the revelation of God, the prophets rarely left any biographical details about themselves.  This does not mean, however, that utter mystery surrounds them all.

For example, Ezekiel was active as a prophet during the Hebrews’ captivity in Babylon. Apparently born in Judah, he was in Babylon as one of the original exiles, rather than being descended from an exile who came earlier while he himself was born in Babylonia.

It is interesting to imagine the psychological state in which the exiles lived in Babylon and how their mental frame-of-mind affected the fervor of their religious belief and practice. Since they were humans as are we, despite all the difference between their time and our own, basic human feelings pertained for them as they would for us.

Ezekiel encountered great faith, without doubt, but he also most surely met despair, anger and disbelief in the power and fidelity of the One God of Israel.

The prophet in preceding verses bemoans the unfaithfulness of the kings of Judah and their people, never God’s infidelity or indifference. In this reading he insists that God will restore the people to security. God is faithful. The people must be faithful as well to God.

St. Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians is the source of the second reading. In the background is an obvious interest in earthly death and its consequences. By the time Paul wrote and preached, Christians were already being held in suspicion by the culture and, more ominously, by political authorities.

The Apostle urges the Christians in Corinth to see heaven as “home”, and to prepare for an end of earthly existence when they will have to answer before the judgment throne of Christ (2 Cor 5:8).

For the last reading, the Church presents a parable from St. Mark’s Gospel. It is the familiar story of the mustard seed. The Lord likens the kingdom of God to the growth of a plant into a mighty bush. The implication for us is that we may grow in our place in the kingdom if we follow Jesus.

This story confronts us with our own potential and with our responsibility as disciples. The growth of the mustard seed from the moment of being planted, to budding, to full maturity happens through God’s providence. It is God’s will and God’s plan, unfolding in grace and nature. Belonging to God, planted by God, it will become the greatest of all plants.

In our humanity, we are small and limited. Still, God wills us to be great and mighty in our holiness, to grow into the strength and majesty of the fully developed bush. This is God’s will and plan. Our God-given freedom is also involved in us becoming the rich produce to be gathered by God in the great harvest that will come at the Last Judgment.


The Church brings us to face that event common to all things living but rarely acknowledged and always feared: death, loss of life and the coming of an ominous and unwelcomed unknown.

Never denying death or belittling the human instinct to survive, the Church, as the teacher of genuine truth, places in context life, death and survival, presenting its teaching in these readings.

Earthly life is not the be all and end all, whether we believe it or not. Life shall endure after physical death, but what will this mean precisely? It presents a question to be answered personally, deep from within each heart. It will mean everlasting life—if we live now with God. The choice to experience eternity with God belongs individually to each of us. †

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