Saturday, June 16, 2018

Like Cedars They Shall Stand

Image result for cedar tree lebanon
....and (he) would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, and he knows not how.
                                                                                                  Mark 4:27

Today is the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time. We are 1/3 through these 33 Sundays. Where does the time go? While this might be a rhetorical question; how about this? When did we celebrate the first 10 Sunday’s of ordinary time? One was last week, but what about the other 9?  Read on to find the answer.

Ordinary time falls into 2 major pieces: the Sundays between the Christmas season and lent and the Sundays between Easter and Advent. I tend to think of these 2 pieces in three chunks: winter, summer and fall ordinary time. (The latter being when school and choir begins.)

The liturgical color of ordinary time is green. The exceptions are solemnities. You may recall 2 recent Sundays (Trinity and Corpus Christi) when the vestments and altar cloth were white. They will be white  next week when we celebrate the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist. 

Ordinary time prompts me to change some aspects of what we sing. You will notice that there is no longer a sung response to General Intercessions. We’ve also changed the mass setting from the Mass of Christ the Savior, sung during the lent and Easter seasons to the Mass of Renewal. (BTW - I was thrilled by how our church sang these mass parts in the first week back.)

The return to ordinary time allows us to resume working through the gospel associated with the yearly lectionary cycle. During the current year (cycle b) we hear portions of the Gospel according to Mark. Today’s pericope (the biblical word for excerpt) comes from Mark chapter 4 verses 26-34.

Jesus tells two parables comparing the kingdom to a bountiful harvest that is the result of Divine providence. The quote at the top of this page is from the first parable. The second is the well-known parable of the mustard seed.

But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade. Mark 4:32

The footnotes of my commentary connect this verse with today’s first reading. Consider the similarity.

On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it. It shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar. Every small bird will nest under it. All kinds of winged birds will dwell in the shade of its branches.              
                                                                                          Ezekiel 17:23

Jesus’ audience would relate to his comparing the Kingdom to the majestic cedars of Lebanon. The Jews among them will know that:

1.   Moses had the priests use cedar wood as a cure for leprosy. 
2.   Solomon’s chose it to build the temple in Jerusalem becoause of its strength. 

Those who are early for mass are in for a treat.  John Luland will be singing and playing “Like Cedars They Shall Stand.”  The third verse uses the image of a cedar as a metaphor for righteousness as found in Psalm 92. 

The just shall grow as tall as palms; like cedars they shall stand.
and planted firmly on their God they shall not break nor bow.
                        from  “ Like Cedars They shall Stand”  by Dan Schutte      

Blessed to be in ministry at St. Mary’s,
I am planning an informal gathering on reading and reflecting on the days scripture this summer on Sunday mornings beginning Sunday, June 24th from 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.  E-mail me at if you’re interested.

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