From Little Things Come Great Things

'Lost and Found' by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission.
“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission.

November 20, 2022

June 13. 2021

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Listen to audio Hear the audio and see video of this homily.

Reading 1
Ezekiel 17:22-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,
and plant it on a high and lofty mountain;
on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
and become a majestic cedar.
Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it,
every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.
And all the trees of the field shall know
that I, the LORD,
bring low the high tree,
lift high the lowly tree,
wither up the green tree,
and make the withered tree bloom.
As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.

Responsorial Psalm
92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16

R. (cf. 2a) Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praise to your name, Most High,
To proclaim your kindness at dawn
and your faithfulness throughout the night.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
The just one shall flourish like the palm tree,
like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.
They that are planted in the house of the LORD
shall flourish in the courts of our God.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
They shall bear fruit even in old age;
vigorous and sturdy shall they be,
Declaring how just is the LORD,
my rock, in whom there is no wrong.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.

Reading II
2 Corinthians 5:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous,
and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
Therefore, we aspire to please him,
whether we are at home or away.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
so that each may receive recompense,
according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower.
All who come to him will live forever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia

Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”
He said,
“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

It’s the little things we have to look for, brothers and sisters. Because it’s the little things that God makes into great things. 

When I was growing up on our farm my dad was working as a Union Ironworker and farming was his way to relax. He farmed about 15 acres of the land. But from time to time there would be a strike and work stoppage so my father would leave for New York, California, Colorado or Wyoming so he could send money home.

There was this wonderful old gentleman we knew as uncle Oscar who lived not far. Uncle Oscar had a very sickly wife he cared for until she passed. With that care he also helped anyone who needed him. 

When my dad was away, Uncle Oscar would come and care for our fields. I remember him walking up and down the rows of peas, beans, corn and anything else my dad planted. Once in a while he’d bend over, touching a plant and rubbing its leaves. I know you’re thinking he would somehow heal this plant. No, that’s a beautiful story – just not this story. 

The reason he had to bend over was because he had lost a leg in a logging accident when he was young. He had a peg leg which he covered with a boot to try to keep others from being uncomfortable. He had this amazing laugh and beautiful smile. For those old enough to remember the Disney heydays there was a movie called “Song of the South”. There was a black gentleman named Uncle Remus. That was the spitting image of uncle Oscar.

Uncle Oscar was such a happy person you would never know of his impediments. He made everyone better – just by being Uncle Oscar. He was the man Jesus speaks of in the first parable. He scattered the seed (his goodness and kindness) and the fruit (other’s goodness) would spring up. He never knew what he did. He slept and woke and his life changed others – he knew not how.

In Ezekiel, we hear him say that God would take the Lebanon cedar,

which gave shelter to the animals and birds, and he would take a tiny shoot

and he would plant it on a mountaintop where he would care for it and it too would become a giant cedar. 

That’s what we are called to do. It’s the little things. The little things we do, like Uncle Oscar, become great things. Everything we do affects others – negatively or positively. Let us have positive effects on others. Let God make great our little things.

It can be a tiny thing that becomes a giant thing.

Jesus uses the parable of the mustard seed to illustrate that it is so important to protect the tiniest things. To nurture

them to allow them to become the “greatest of all the plants”.

But we have to allow them to become what God makes of them.

This is our mustard seed. This is what we must care for and protect. 

At the end of this month our government will vote on whether we keep the Hyde Amendment or to end its protections of the unborn. As Catholics, we teach all life is sacred – especially the most vulnerable. It is up to us to protect and nurture all life – new and old.

I can’t promise you that these children will become another St John Paul II or St Teresa of Calcutta. But, at the very least, shouldn’t we give them a chance?

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