2 Cor 5:6-10
The late spring view of growing gardens and trees in full leaf makes a vibrant backdrop to our readings. With Jesus, we are part of something growing, ready for harvest, full of surprises.
Through the eyes of Ezekiel we see a lovely work of God, who transplants a majestic cedar to make it serve as shelter for all the winged creatures. God is a gardener. We remember that we who are made in the image of the Gardener did once possess a garden. When we found ourselves outside, looking in through the closed gates, God did not forget us, but joined us outside the garden. Notice how often scripture describes divine love in terms of beautiful agricultural metaphors. God is described as a gardener who has planted a vineyard, and pruned and cared for the vines so that we can delight once more to dwell in the garden where we belong. At the end of the Book of Consolation, Isaiah says of God’s creative work and saving love for Israel: “all the trees of the countryside clap their hands (55:12).” God the gardener is worthy of our applause. We can echo the words of God in Genesis, “It is good.” How many encores ought the God who is rich in fidelity and mercy receive?
The gospel of Mark tells us of Jesus’ surprising fulfillment of God’s work. God entrusted to us, sharers in the divine image, our vocation of working in the garden. Despite the often-repeated stories of sin and exile, Jesus comes as the Good News, the Son of God, the Beloved upon whom the Spirit rests. He enables us to carry out our vocation.
Mark speaks of the garden as the Kingdom of God. The image provides a promise of fullness from which we draw hope and vision, but the Kingdom is also the garden where we share the work of our creative God. It seems that our part does not amount to much. We only scatter the seed given us. The soil is rich and welcoming. Even if only a portion of the seed finds the good soil, it will spring up in abundance. We marvel at how God gives the growth and we enjoy the best part, the harvesting. The growth and the yield are marvelous to behold. We say with God, “It is good.”
With Jesus’ disciples we may wonder “why these tricky parables?” But parables carry the kernels of surprise. We can examine them, guess at their variety. We may never be certain what will pop up. A new variety of tomato may surprise us and give our salads a new taste. The parables may surprise us when opened and mixed with our worries, questions and prayers.
- Fr. Bill Murphy, C.P.