On the Lord's Kingdom

“Our diminutive power … if it is joined to God’s, fears no obstacle, because the Lord’s victory is certain”

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 18, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Today’s liturgy proposes two brief parables of Jesus: that of the seed that grows by itself and that of the mustard seed (cf. Mark 4:26-34). Through images taken from the agricultural world, the Lord presents the mystery of the Word and Kingdom of God, and he indicates the reasons for our hope and our commitment.

In the first parable the attention is on the dynamism of planting seeds: the seed that is put in the ground germinates and grows by itself while the farmer sleeps and while he is awake. The man sows the seeds in the hope that his work will not be without fruit. The farmer’s trust in the power of the seed and in the goodness of the soil is what sustains him in his daily toils. This parable recalls the mystery of creation and of the redemption, of God’s fecund work in history. He is the Lord of the Kingdom, man is his humble collaborator, who contemplates and rejoices God’s creative action and awaits its fruits with patience. The final harvest turns our mind to God’s conclusive intervention at the end of time, when he will fully realize his Kingdom. The present time is the time of planting, and the growth of the seed is assured by the Lord. Every Christian, then, knows well that he must do all that he can but that the final result depends on God: this knowledge sustains him in daily toil, especially in difficult situations. On this matter St. Ignatius writes: “Act as if everything depended on you, knowing that in reality everything depends on God” (cf. Pedro de Ribadeneira, “Vita di S. Ignazio di Loyola,” Milano 1998).

The second parable also uses the image of planting. Here, however, it is a specific seed, the mustard seed, considered to be the smallest of all seeds. Although it is so mall, it is full of life; as it breaks open a sprout emerges that is able to break through the soil, enter into the light of the sun and grow into “the largest of all the plants in the garden” (cf. Mark 4:32): the weakness and the power of the seed, its destruction is its power. This is how the Kingdom of God is: a reality that is small on a human scale, made up of those who are poor in their hearts, those who do not rely on their own strength, but that of the love of God; it is made up of those who are not important in the world’s eyes. But it is precisely through such as these that Christ’s power shows forth and transforms what is apparently insignificant.

The image of the seed is especially dear to Jesus, because it expresses the mystery of the Kingdom of God well. In today’s two parables the seeds represent a “growth” and a “contrast”: the growth occurs through a dynamism in the seed itself and the contrast is between the littleness of the seed and the greatness of what it produces. The message is clear: the Kingdom of God, even if it demands our cooperation, is first of all a gift of the Lord, grace that precedes man and his works. Our diminutive power, apparently impotent in the face of the world’s problems, if it is joined to God’s, fears no obstacle, because the Lord’s victory is certain. It is the miracle of God’s love that makes every good seed cast upon the soil germinate and grow. And the experience of this love makes us optimists, despite the difficulties, the suffering and evil that we meet. The seed sprouts and grows, because it makes the love of God grow. May the Virgin Mary, who welcomed the seed of the divine Word as “good soil,” strengthen this faith and this hope in us.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Wednesday, June 20, is the United Nations World Refugee Day. Its purpose is to draw the international community’s attention to the situations of so many persons, especially families, who are forced to flee their homelands because of armed conflicts and grave forms of violence. I assure my prayers and the solicitude of the Holy See for these brothers and sisters who are so afflicted while I desire that their rights always be respected and that they can reunite soon with their loved ones.

Today in Ireland is the last day of the International Eucharistic Congress, which, over the course of the past week, made Dublin into the city of the Eucharist, where many persons were recollected in prayer in the presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar. Jesus wished to remain with us in the mystery of the Eucharist to bring us into communion with him and among ourselves. Let us entrust to Mary Most Holy the fruits of these days of reflection and prayer.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. In today’s Gospel, the Lord teaches us that God’s kingdom is like a tiny mustard seed which becomes the largest of shrubs. Let us fervently pray that God may take our weak but sincere desires and transform them into great works of love for him and our neighbor. Upon each of you and your loved ones, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday. A good Sunday, a good week to everyone.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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