Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time[1][2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible


Reading 1 Wisdom 12:13, 16-19

The Wisdom author provides a unique insight into the Old Testament perception of God’s power and mercy. The passage begins with a statement that God is the only god there is no other to which He answers; to whom He must justify his actions. His will is the source of Justice and because God is capable of destroying what he created, the fact that he chooses not to is proof that he is ”lenient”.

The author tells the people that when God’s primacy is challenged by unbelieving people He reveals his might. Those who do have faith in him are expected to be confident and outspoken in praise of God (“…you rebuke temerity.”). The passage concludes with a testimony of God’s mercy for in his omnipotence he shows clemency to those who err and in that compassion gives hope to the people for repentance and forgiveness.

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.

Psalm 86 is a lament. The psalmist sings of a life afflicted and asks God to give his servant relief. The song indicates the faithfulness of the singer, even in times of distress. The theme of forgiveness and mercy are confidently expected for those who believe and trust in God.

Reading II Romans 8:26-27

St. Paul’s dialogue has been explaining to the Romans that the glory Christ will be shared by those who believe in him and the sufferings of the present life are preparatory to future redemption. It is through the Holy Spirit that this interior will is communicated to God in prayer. Even imperfect intent is received because of the intercession of the Spirit and because of God’s love and mercy.

Gospel Matthew 13:24-43

In the first parable (unique to St. Matthew’s Gospel) we see the metaphor of the field used to describe the whole of mankind. The fact that the householder does not permit his slaves to tear out the weeds for fear of killing the wheat as well is a warning to the disciples not to judge or attempt to alienate themselves from those with whom they have contact who reject the word.

The parables of the “Mustard Seed” and “Yeast” (see also
Mark 4:30-32 and Luke 13:18-21) emphasize that from the smallest of beginnings with the proclamation of the word, the Kingdom of God expands to encompass all peoples.

Or Shorter From
Matthew 13:24-30

The shorter form focuses specifically on the parable of the “Weeds” and excludes the explanation of the parable in Matthew 13: 26-42. While the longer form provides a broader view of the Kingdom of God, the shorter form focuses on the consequences of belief or rejection of the “Good News”.


“Don’t play God.” That is the message the Lord gives us in his first parable. There are other times when Jesus tells his disciples not to be judgmental. The most notable is “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye?” (
Matthew 7: 1-4). The parable of the Weeds is a bit more complex but with a similar injunction which, of course, also applies to us.

As we have been told time and again over the past several weeks, we are called to be an apostolic people. We have been given so much. The Lord has shown us his love and mercy. He has told us that this love is given without cost and without merit. This same beneficence is reiterated in the reading from Wisdom today. God alone has power over all that is; that moves and breaths and has life. It is through his mercy that we are able to have life and hope. His unconditional love is made clear in the fact that we are given free will; we can accept God’s Word and believe in him or we can chose the other path.

It is because of this offered choice that the parable of the Weeds was necessary. If God had chosen, he could have made us such that we would come into being completely obedient to him with absolute faith. We would be like Angels, always worshiping and adoring God, ever faithful in our words and actions. But as a creation made in His image and likeness, with free will, we are governed only by our understanding of God’s existence and our faith in his continued presence, in-dwelling as the Holy Spirit, omnipresent in his creation, and specifically present in the Eucharist we share.

Yet we grow up in the world as members of a global community. Many of those we encounter do not share our faith in Christ and have rejected his word. These individuals are potentially “…the children of the evil one”. And the key word describing them is “potentially”. We are not God! We do not know their hearts. Only God may presume to see clearly which are the true enemies and those who are simply misguided. Our command is the same for all – “Love one another.” Jesus makes it even more explicit when he says “Love your enemies.” It is in this way that the wheat may be cultivated even as it grows among the weeds. It is this way we can nourish one and even the by-product of that nourishment may help the weeds become more like the grain desired by our Heavenly Father.

Today we pray always that we always are able to express the love of God to those we meet and that we also remember that judgment of others is reserved to God who created all things.


[1] After Links to Readings Expire
[2] The picture used is “Landscape with the Parable of the Tares among the Wheat” by Abraham Bloemaert, 1624

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