16th Sunday of Ordinary Time-Cycle A—2017
FIRST READING Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
There is no god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned. For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all. For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity. But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.
SECOND READING Romans 8:26-27
Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.
GOSPEL Matthew 13:24-43
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘” He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'” He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.” Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
The Letter to the Romans tells us in the second reading today: “we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” That is pretty strong! Because our world is so messed up, we are often confused about what is right and what is wrong—so we don’t know how to pray as we ought.
The first reading today, from the Book of Wisdom, reminds us that God is all powerful and because of that, God can love and judge and deal with us with leniency and mercy and forgiveness. Those who are powerful can be generous! This can remind us that our own personal power should always reflect in mercy, generosity and forgiveness.
The Letters to the Romans reminds us that our prayers are very often just our own prayers and not the will of God. Instead, we can allow the Spirit to pray within us so that the prayer is God’s prayer. It is easy to do this. All we need say is “O God, may I do your will and pray for what you want.”
The Gospel from Saint Matthew today, in the longer version, gives us three parables. The shorter version gives us only one parable and without its explanation by the Lord. All three parables are about the kingdom of God. We can understand from these parables that it is difficult in this life to separate the good and the bad, the wheat and the weeds. We can see that the Kingdom is a small seed that can grow enormously. And we can understand that if we live the Kingdom, it becomes like leaven in bread in our lives and in the lives of others.
The teaching today is that we must be slow to judge others, slow to think that we understand the Kingdom and how it is present and slow to presume that we know the ways of God. Rather, we must look at others as possible Kingdom bearers, we must be still before the mystery of God so that we can begin to be aware of the Kingdom and we must look for God in all that happens to us and to others.
When Jesus tells us parables, it is because He wants us to look at life in ways that are different from our normal ways. We should never think that we are the wheat and that others are the weeds! Rather we need to pay attention to the weeds of our lives and be aware of the wheat in the lives of others. When Jesus tells us that the Kingdom is like a small seed that can grow into a large tree, we should be aware of the gifts of others and aware that we are still small. When Jesus tells us that the Kingdom is like leaven, we should strive to be aware of how others are leaven already and that we can become leaven.
Let us be aware of God’s love for others and reflect God’s love for others in our own lives through mercy and forgiveness.
Your brother in the Lord,