Sunday Sermon for June 14, 2015, the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Readings: Ex 17:22-24; 2Cor 5:6-10; Mk 4:26-34
In the Gospel reading today our Lord tells the story of the farmer who planted his seeds, slept and rose night and day, while the seed sprouts and grows of its own accord, the farmer knows not how. Jesus says that this is how it is with the Kingdom of God. The problem for us today is that this no longer makes sense to us because we think that we know how it all works.

Many of advances in science and technology have brought great benefits to our lives and to the world. At the same time, many “advances” have brought with them a great amount of detriment. One negative aspect that most people do not even consider is the undermining of faith that has been the result of having knowledge of the inner working of so many things in our lives.

Scientists today can provide us with detailed information on how seeds germinate, sprout, grow, and develop. Young children in grade school learn about these things in their classroom lessons and experiments. Not only is it good for the children to learn such lessons, it is fascinating for them to watch the growth of the plants.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with these things and, in fact, it is good for us to have such knowledge, one of the results is the idea that all of this happens without God. Since we know how it all works, we think, we no longer need God. The only reason that we think this is because we can explain how it happens. The same is true when we talk about weather related issues, earthquakes, volcanoes, you name it.

It used to be that since we did not understand things, people had to turn to God in prayer for healing, for the success of their crops, for protection from the elements, etc. Now, however, because we have greater understanding, doctors, horticulturists, geologists, and other can help us. This is all excellent, but the fact that there is knowledge and ability on the natural level does not imply that God is out of the equation.

For instance, using the example of the seed as we have it above, while scientists or horticulturists can explain in detail the process of germination of a seed, they still are unable to make one. It reminds me of the whole big bang theory: they only take you back to the bang, but fail to address how the two atoms came into being in the first place and how they began their movement which eventually resulted in the bang. The fact is, we can only make something from preexistent materials. Our knowledge of these materials and how they work does not mean that we can cause their existence.

Well, the problem we have today is even bigger. It is not just that we have removed God from farming, medicine, science, etc.; the problem is that we have removed God from everything. It does not seem to matter how many miracles God works, in our world nothing is attributed to God (except the clause in the insurance policies regarding acts of God, all of which are bad). Once again, we assume that if we can explain something, it could not have originated with God.

For this reason the first reading says that God is going to do something that all people will recognize as having to come from God. This is the present state of things. Because of our unbelief God is allowing us to go our own way. Without God and without faith, the world will continue its downward spiral until people will finally come to their senses and realize that neither government nor science will be able to solve their problems. Only when things are at their worst will God intervene because only then will people be willing to admit that what they have witnessed can only come from God.

In the meantime, those of us who have faith have to strive to bolster that faith. St. Paul says in the second reading that we walk by faith, not by sight. He also says that in everything we do we strive to please the Lord. People of our day need to have hope that can come only from those with faith who point to Someone beyond in Whom they trust. Does that sound like you?

If the answer is positive, continue to pray and grow in your faith because the test of that faith is coming and will culminate in the divine intervention mentioned above. If the answer is negative, go to prayer and beg God for the grace of Faith, Hope and Charity. Not only is this the Christian way of living, it is the only hope for the world. In God, not science or technology, we trust.

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit