Parables of Growth

Parable of the Trees in Ezekiel 17:22-24: the cedar tree represents Israel, while the other trees represent the other nations in the world. Babylon was at the height of its power, but the Lord will rebuild the Davidic dynasty so the nations will realize that only God has control over a nation’s destiny. “Every tree of the field will know that I am the LORD. I bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the dry tree bloom.”(Ezekiel 17:24) The high tree represents Babylon and the lowly tree represents the Davidic kingdom.

Parable of the Seed in Mark 4:26-29: This parable is recorded only in Mark’s Gospel. Most commentaries reckon that the seed represents the Gospel, and the man who scatters the seed represents a person who, through word or deed, spreads the Gospel. While the sower sleeps and rises night and day, the seed would sprout and grow – first the blade, next the ear, then the full grain in the ear – but the sower knows not how. The point of the parable is that the person who sows the seed of the Gospel knows not the mysterious ways in which the grace of God works.  As in the Parable of the Trees, the Parable of the Seed sends the message that it is God, and not man, who is ultimately in control.

Psalm 127 carries a relevant message: “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build. Unless the LORD guard the city, in vain does the guard keep watch. It is vain for you to rise early and put off your rest at night, to eat bread earned by hard toil — all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.” (Psalm 127:1-2) Even though Christians should put in effort to build the Kingdom of God on earth, it is God who determines where, when and how the growth of the Kingdom takes place. The ultimate result will depend on how God designed it to be.

As we reflect on these parables, perhaps we can also broaden our minds to accept the fact that God’s ways are not man’s ways; the bible contains many examples which show us evidence of this. Many times, God chose the most unlikely people to carry out His plan. The Book of Isaiah tells us: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways — oracle of the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) First of all, God’s wisdom is infinite and ours are finite. Second, God sees everything from the beginning of time all the way to end, while we only see a small part of the past and present.

One final thought regarding the growth of the Kingdom: many people measure growth based on the number of members that a church has; for example, a mega-church versus a small corner church. Can we honestly say that God is more pleased with a mega-church than with a small church? Wouldn’t Jesus be more pleased with a small community that is faithful to His teachings, rather than with a mega-church with thousands of lukewarm “Christians”? The growth of the Kingdom is not only measured in numbers, but more importantly, growth is measured in what’s inside each and every person’s heart and soul.

“God values our goodwill more than what we accomplish.”
St. Lawrence Justinian (1381-1456)

Chinese cultural dance classes will resume this Sunday from 12:30pm to 1:30pm in the Social Hall. Tai-chi exercise classes will continue to be held on Sundays from 11:30am to 12:00pm.

Vacation Bible School will be on Saturday, July 17. The theme for this year is: “Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (1Cor 10:31) This parish event begins at 1:00pm and ends at 4:00pm. All children from grades 1-8 are welcome. Please register with Mrs. Long Che Chan.

The Pastoral Council will meet today after Mass in the Conference Room.

Finance Council members will meet next Sunday after Mass in the conference room.