In the readings for Sunday, June 17, God tells us what big things he can do with just a little faith from us.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar.
Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
2 Corinthians 5:6-10
…For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
It’s growing season. Whether you keep a garden, or just have some trees and bushes around you, you can see that things are flowering, greening, getting tall, and some things are even bearing fruit. God uses the mystery of growing things to explain the Kingdom of God. In the first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel speaks for God saying that God will take a tree—a cedar, which is highly valued wood—and from it make a little shoot that will be placed high up on a mountain where it will flourish. High mountains symbolize closeness to God. God will plant his people (us)—who are highly valued by him—close to him, and when they respond by living in deliberate closeness to God, they will flourish and become a refuge for living things. We are called to do the same.
Jesus picks up on this theme when he tells his disciples about the Kingdom of God. First he talks about a farmer scattering seed and the yield that is produced by the grace of God. This is how we should be—planting seeds of faith, love and charity, and letting God’s Holy Spirit do the growing. The second parable is the familiar mustard seed story. It was the smallest known seed at the time, but grows into a huge plant. It, like the cedar in the first reading, gives refuge to nature, supplies seasoning and even medicine to those who harvest it. This is a reminder to us that even our smallest efforts at sharing the Gospel are multiplied by God. All the good that we do God takes, perfects, and makes more fruitful than we could ever have imagined.
Sit quietly and watch a tree. What animals come and go? How does the tree help them? Does it give them food? Shelter? A place to hide from danger? How is the tree similar to the way God takes care of us?
Do you understand yourself to be a valued like the cedar in the first reading? How has God planted you where you can flourish and become a refuge for others?
Do you plant seeds for God? If so, how and where? How do you see God multiplying your efforts?
Take a nature walk this week. Discuss how you see God in what you see.
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”