Ezekiel was an Old Testament prophet who loved to use extravagant imagery. In today’s first reading, Ezekiel gives us a picture of forest trees spouting all kinds of off shoots. In fact, he was alluding to the controversies and scandals that were going on in the local politics and foreign affairs of his day. But for us, we can relate this symbolism more broadly to what Jesus wants to say in today’s gospel. The way that trees sprout up and crops grow from seeds is a sign of how God’s grace works in the world: slowly, mysteriously, but powerfully and against all the obstacles that stand in the way. In the end, we trust that God’s cause will triumph, just as the farmer has to trust that the harvest will come in to feed his family.
The second reading is another one of those very personal comments from St. Paul concerning his courage and perseverance in the face of adversity. But Paul never boasts of his own experience to praise himself, but to offer himself as a source of encouragement to others. Here Paul sets his sight on his final standing before God, which gives him the courage to persevere in his ministry.
—Walter Modrys SJ
This Sunday’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.