The Secret Inner Force of Growth in Us

In the course of living this complex life, we sometimes fall into the danger of thinking that everything depends on our human power and human ingenuity. It is a danger because when one lives with such a frame of mind, one easily gets frustrated and sometimes falls into depression because things do not happen the way one plans or imagines. Disasters can come at anytime and trusted people can also disappoint. The experience becomes even worse if we think we can fix all with our power. But there are also forces within us and forces working for us that we cannot explain. This is where the God-factor comes in, no matter how we rationalize things. The important thing is that God is always working secretly and in diverse ways to make us succeed in life. It is left to us to recognize His presence and submit and surrender to Him in all things. The readings of today underscore this fact from different perspectives.

Beginning Small and Growing to Greatness

The two parables of the mustard seed and the flour in the Gospel of today from Luke 13:18-21 are intrinsically related and explain each other. Both the mustard seed and the flour begin life small but end up being big because another force empowers them to increase. The growth of the mustard seed depends neither on the farmer nor on the seed itself but on a secret force that makes the seed to keep growing. This secret force is like the yeast in the second parable which works its way gradually through the dough until it leavens. The point that should not be forgotten is that each of these is a parable of the Kingdom. The great message Jesus is communicating is that this is the way God works with us. The power of growth and transformation works secretly within us but does not come from us. But it needs our cooperation. This gives us courage to keep going even when conditions seem insurmountable. With God, nothing is impossible.

Submitting to Good in All Situations

Since it is the power of God working in us in ways we can hardly explain, the part of wisdom is to surrender to Him in every situation. The psalmist says it very well in Psalm 128 in today’s liturgy: “Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways” (122:1). Fearing the Lord and walking in his ways means surrendering one’s life to God. The inevitable fruit is genuine prosperity in one’s profession and business together with peace and growth in family life.

This act of submitting and surrendering to God is expressed by Paul beautifully in the first reading from Eph 5:21-33, where he urges husband and wife to surrender to each other as a mark of their reverence for Christ. None should lord it over the other. Wives should revere their husbands the way the Church reveres Christ as Bridegroom while husbands should love their wives the way Christ loves the Church as his Bride and offers himself for her. In this way, the family becomes a miniature heaven where the total surrender to God is exemplified and dramatized in the total love and reverence of the couple for each other. Paul calls it a great mystery, which is a secret way God works for the growth and happiness of every home.

Just like the parables of the mustard seed and the flour, the self-surrendering mysteriously helps the inner growth of the marriage and family. In whatever state of life we find ourselves, God is calling us to surrender to Him as His power working mysteriously in us is the only sure hope of real growth and lasting peace and tranquility.

[Readings: Eph 5:21-33; Lk 13:18-21]

Fr. Luke Ijezie

Rev. Fr. Dr. Luke Emehiele Ijezie comes from Amucha in the Imo State of Nigeria. He is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Orlu, Nigeria, and ordained a priest on 24th September 1988. With a Licentiate and Doctorate in Sacred Scripture (SSL, Biblicum, Rome, 1995, STD, Gregorian University, Rome, 2005), he has since 2006 been a lecturer in Sacred Scripture and Biblical Languages at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He is the national secretary of the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN) and executive member of the Association of African Theologians (ATA), a member of various professional associations, among which are the Catholic Biblical Association of America (CBA) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). He is the author of numerous publications. Contact: Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt

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