Ezekiel 17:22-24 / 2 Cor 5:6-10 / Mark 4:26-34
The month of June can be called a feverish month. Firstly, in terms of the weather, it was feverishly hot, although the last couple of days seem to have cooled down a bit.
But even if the weather cools off, it is still a feverish month. There was the feast-day fever, those three days of the triduum and then the feast-day itself. Well may the fire keep burning in our hearts with the love of Jesus.
And then there was the summit fever. Those foreign journalists and security personnel experienced how hot Singapore can be. For the leaders of the US and North Korea to agree to meet in Singapore says much about Singapore, a tiny but hot dot.
And now the latest fever is the World Cup fever. All those TV sets that are switched on for the “live” matches are certainly raising up the temperature.
The World Cup is the show-case of the game of football. Like the Olympics, it is held once every four years. But unlike the Olympics, which has a variety of sports, the World Cup is all about football and only about football.
Set on the world stage, the countries that qualified converge in Moscow where the players will display their skills before the millions who will be watching them on their TV sets.
For some of the younger players, it will probably be their first World Cup experience. For some of the older ones, it may be their last.
But whether first or last, these players have come a long way and this is the world stage where they will show how good they are and whether they are good enough to lift the prize of the World Cup of football.
Of course we may not be told or we will not know what sacrifices they made or how hard they trained just to get there, and if luck is on their side, it will be their moment of glory.
So what we see is the final result. What we don’t see is the training, the sweat and the pain. Some may shoot to fame. Some may, because of a mistake, walk away from the pitch in shame.
Like the gospel parables that we have just read, the players are like the seeds that a man throws on the land. Night and day, while the man sleeps and wakes and goes about his business, the seeds grow and sprout.
And now at the World Cup, the time of harvest had come, and some will bear fruit of thirty, or sixty, or a hundred fold. But some may bear nothing at all.
Some will be like the mustard seed, unknown and unheard of, but on that world stage, will rise to the greatest heights of fame in the game.
Whatever it may be, but like the gospel parables, there is the human involvement. The seeds were sown on the land by the man. Similarly, the mustard seed was sown in the soil by somebody.
Once the seeds are in the soil, nature takes it course, and the grace of God will shape the development of the seeds into what they will become.
Similarly, for those footballers at the World Cup arena. Somebody would have helped them to be sown into the game and helped them in their development.
Maybe for some of them, their fathers were footballers or were somehow involved in the game. Or maybe their fathers just loved watching the game (like most of our fathers) and as little boys they wanted to show their fathers that they can play the game, and would desire that their fathers would watch them play the game too.
Well, today as we also celebrate Fathers Day, we want to acknowledge that our fathers had also played an influential part in our lives.
We may not have turned out to be footballers, but maybe one present we can get for them is one of those World Cup deals offered by the telcos.
Fathers are quite easy to please. Just let them watch the football matches peacefully, and even food may not be necessary. But just don’t walk in front of the TV. Fathers can get angry in such sensitive situations.
Well, I need not get any present for my father, as he had passed on exactly four years ago. He never expected me to be a footballer, neither did he expect me to be a priest, and he also never thought I could be one.
He didn’t teach me how to be a priest. But he taught me how to be a father. He was just an ordinary father, who liked to watch football matches, wrestling, and the TV series in the ‘70s called “Combat”.
From him I learnt how to be the head of the family, to make sacrifices, to live simply and to be contented with the little things of life.
He taught me that prayer is essential, so every day the family would say the Rosary, and that God’s blessings cannot be taken for granted, so he will bless the home and incense it every week.
He never expected me to be a priest, nor did he thought that I would eventually be one. But he gave his silent consent and support. If he were still alive, he would come every Sunday, just to make sure that I preach properly and don’t scold the people.
Well, I didn’t lift up the World Cup, but whenever I lift up the Cup for the world at the altar, he would know that he had done his part as a father.
So to you my dear fathers, and as a father to a father, do continue to form your children in faith and in the ways of the Lord.
Your presence is all they need, even if you are just sitting there silently watch some World Cup match.
For all you know, some may lift up the World Cup, and some may lift up the Cup for the world.