Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.

Sunday 17th June 2018
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Ezekiel 17: 22-24     2 Corinthians 5: 6-10     Mark 4: 26-34

Not So Cock Sure?

A story is told of a cockerel who convinced himself that he was important, because every time he crowed at dawn, the sun rose! It’s a tale told to poke fun at people who think that everything revolves around them and that everything depends upon their efforts. When Jesus tells the parables of the Kingdom, he uses a similar analogy. He describes how it is that we must work for the Kingdom, and yet at the same time the Kingdom does not simply depend upon our efforts.

The man who threw seed on the land waited for the crop. Yet the crop kept growing even when the man had forgotten about it. In fact, we are led to believe that it grew just as much when the man was asleep as when he was watching over it. It needed the man to prepare the ground and sow the seed, but there was something else at work – let’s call it nature – which had the final say. Jesus says of the man, “How the seed is sprouting and growing, he does not know.”

There’s no shortage of cockerel Christians. We can fool ourselves into thinking sometimes that the spread of the Kingdom of God is brought about by our efforts. Nothing could be further from the truth. We can and must co-operate with God, but only the Holy Spirit can cause the Kingdom to grow. We may put up the sails, but it’s God who provides the wind.

Similarly there are those who mix up the Church with the Kingdom of God. But they are not the same. We cannot look at the growth or decline of the Church and equate it with the Kingdom. The Kingdom is more mysterious than the visible display which the Church gives. The Kingdom of God is to be found wherever the Spirit of God is at work, wherever there is growth, harmony, reconciliation and peace. And we know that this happens in many places outside the Church. So the Church is caught up in the Kingdom – is even the bride of Christ the King – but it does not exhaust the boundaries of the Kingdom.

The efforts of the Church to bring Christ to the world are good and laudable. But there is something even greater at work. The Kingdom, which is being built here on Earth but will come to completion only in Heaven, cannot be summoned up at our command. It is God’s own Kingdom, and it is God alone “who withers green trees and makes the withered green.”




Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2018