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Homily of Bishop William Crean – 13th June 2021

11th Sunday (B)

13th June 2021

St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh

“Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish” (Psalm 91)

My friends,

For some years now in the world of food “organic” is much valued and sought after.  There are many who will only consume food that is produced organically even thought it is usually more expensive.  Over time companies involved in food production on an industrial scale have been obliged to put more and more details on their labels so that people will know precisely the ingredients of products they are consuming.  We become what we eat.

This development ‘round food production is now a mature movement which once was not taken seriously.  It is part of a wider “green movement” which is grounded in a deep respect for nature and its patterns of growth.  There is a strong sense that the human person, even humanity itself, is damaged and diminished if we fail to stay close to and respect our natural environment.  The more we move away from our own nature the more we become strangers to our own selves.  Becoming a stranger to our own selves is to become alienated.  We lose a sense of identity and belonging.  Lives become fragmented and broken.  People become anxious and angry, frustrated and confused.  It is little wonder then that people young and old turn to various distractions to alleviate their suffering, pain, anguish and alienation.

In the Gospel and the Old Testament reading from Ezekiel, it is remarkable how rich and wholesome the images of renewal and hope are drawn from the patterns of nature.  Jesus in the Gospel leaves us with the mustard seed as the source of our hope.  We can easily, humanly speaking, be discouraged by the challenges we face, some tasks seem beyond us.  Jesus points to the tiny mustard seed as the model of our beginning and the pattern for future growth.

These past 15 months of lockdown or restrictions were, to use the image of nature itself, a kind of desert experience – where we were stripped of so much we were used to.  We felt it actively at the beginning, the isolation and absence of those close to us.  Then we began to adjust – many began to sow seeds as they literally turned to gardening.  Many, like myself, took to walking more to feel the invigorating value of exercise.  Many people in performing and creative arts found a new space for their imagination and creativity.  And there are countless other examples of other new beginnings that have taken root in these unusual times.

While we associate “organic” with food production it really has a much wider and deeper scope in our experience of life.  We know that for those who embrace the “Green Agenda” is a kind of spirituality as we might use the word in a religious context.  It is at once a vision / understanding of creation, life and the ethnic for living.  So, I am not speaking in narrowly political terms here.

Viewing it this way, embracing the “Organic” is a rediscovery of a dimension of spirituality and the spiritual life that got smothered in the race for technological development and efficiency.

Therefore, we should take heart today with the message of the mustard seed – tiny as it is, in right soil and climate it will blossom to be the huge bush on which the birds of the air can rest.

So, trust the seeds you sow, small and big – an act of kindness or a big gift and life will blossom anew.

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