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4th Sunday after Pentecost

16 JUNE 2024

1 Samuel 15.34-16.13

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel. 1 The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.’ 2 Samuel said, ‘How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.’ And the Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord .” 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.’ 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, ‘Do you come peaceably?’ 5 He said, ‘Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord ; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord ’s anointed is now before the Lord .’ 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ 10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen any of these.’ 11 Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.’ 12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.’ 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.


I approach this reading from the theme I present in the Gospel reflection, growing the kingdom of God. God had given the people Saul as king, but Saul had lost God's favor. Why? Surely God knew what would happen with Saul. Why did God not pick better the first time? Saul's insecurities got the better of him and this impacted on the kingdom of God rising in him. poor Saul would suffer with God's leaving him to his own devices. Samuel was hurt by God's decision. God calls Samuel to move on. We see God's rejection, but God saw something in Saul that God knew was not right. Maybe God saw the death of God's seed in Saul and knew that the kingdom would not grow in him. God is looking for a person that the seed will grow in. Samuel looks outwardly, like he looked at the human Saul. God looks for the heart where the kingdom will grow.  


Psalm 20

1 May the Lord hear you in the day of trouble:

the God of Jacob lift you up to safety.

2 May he send you his help from the sanctuary:

and be your strong support from Zion.

3 May he remember all your offerings:

and accept with favour your burnt sacrifices,

4 Grant you your heart’s desire:

and fulfil all your purposes.

5 May we also rejoice in your victory

and triumph in the name of our God:

the Lord perform all your petitions.

6 Now I know that the Lord will save his anointed:

that he will answer him from his holy heaven

with the victorious strength of his right hand.

7 Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses:

but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God.

8 They are brought down and fallen:

but we are made strong and stand upright.

9 O Lord, save the king:

and hear us when we call upon you.

2nd Reading

2 Corinthians 5.6-10, 5.14-17

6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For all of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil. 14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!


Paul writes about this idea of a new creation, a spiritual creation. one that is moved by the spirit, not the world. This is a life lived to please Jesus. Paul cannot wait to leave his physical and enter into the spiritual life. What moves/'motivates Paul?  The love of Christ. In this love Paul and all have the ability to die. This death is a death to the desire of the world. To brings focused on a life lived in the Spirit. This Spirit helps grow the seeds of our faith and leads to the sharing of the life and the seed of our faith, which will bring the kingdom of God into our lives. 


Mark 4.26-34

26 He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’ 30 He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’ 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.


Jesus provides two parables about the kingdom of God. It is like a plant. The focus of the first illustration is that it grows on its own. How does a place grow? Is Jesus talking about the population of the Kingdom of God? Or is Jesus suggesting that the kingdom of God is not a place, but a form of existence? Is this idea of Kingdom related to the Lord's prayer, 'Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.'? Does our understanding of the Kingdom effect the understanding of the parable or does the parable affect our understanding of the kingdom? The parable raises more questions for me than answers.

For today I look at the parable as a lived existence rather than a place. That the seed is the sharing of God's work, gift and want for humanity to people. That's where our control ends. How it grows, what is produced, is done by God. the 'he' referred to in verse 29 could mean Jesus or it could mean the Sower, us. the Sower returns to reap the fruit of the harvest, which is more seed, not the plant. As we reach our maturity, it is not us that God wants, but what our lives can give to the expansion of the kingdom. 

In the second parable, we see the idea of the kingdom being a place for others to find rest, a home to live their lives. Interestingly those who find rest do not provide anything for the kingdom. this presents the kingdom as a place of charity. the place of charity can grow out of the smallest thing. 

Again, though, the kingdom is grown, it does not exist in isolation or in location. 

What are we living for? a place at our death? If the kingdom is something that grows in me and produces seed to put in other people's lives or/and to provide something that gives life to others, than I could live my whole life waiting for something that was meant to be experienced in life. What are we growing in our faith journey? Does my faith provide seed? Does my faith give to others? Do I feel the kingdom of God in my life?

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