16th Sunday Of Ordinary Time – Year A.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“The Calm Of God And The Impatience
We instinctively divide humankind into two groups: the good and the wicked, the friends and the enemies. We often ask God to intervene to judge and punish the wicked. The readings of today tell us very clearly that God will never carry out these crazy wishes.
The first reading teaches us that God will use his force not to smite humankind but to save us.
The second reading speaks of the Spirit that beseeches the Father to destroy all evil, which one-day will be granted.
Today’s Gospel tells us to accept with peace of mind the presence of evil in the world, and invites us to recognize the darnel present also in our hearts and it assures us that the love of God will one day destroy it.
Guide to ‘Live’ the Sunday Liturgy:
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
If at all possible, share this Bible Reflection time with a family member, a friend or someone you wish to bring to Christ. Jesus said in Mt. 18:20 – “For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.”
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests, bishops and Catholic theologians who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a ‘Prayer’ are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. With faith and perseverance, we will start to put into practice the Lord’s teachings; begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love, God’s will, and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator. Meditations and Prayer on the Reflections should be done daily – first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.
It may be necessary to pray and repeat the study of the Bible Readings and Commentaries more than once, or even on a daily basis, if you feel that you have not yet grasped the Lord’s special message for you.
“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden.
In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19.
The Book of Wisdom was the last book of the Old Testament to be written. Its author, a Jewish wise man living at Alexandria in Egypt, was probably still alive at the time of the birth of Jesus. At that time the majority of the Jewish people did not live in Palestine but had migrated to other countries. Some of these Jews living abroad had been very successful and owned very profitable businesses, but the majority of the Jewish people were having a difficult time and questioned themselves: how is it that we who observe the Law of God are constantly humiliated and oppressed, while the pagans who lead a corrupt life prosper and enjoy life? Why doesn’t God intervene and put some order in the world? Why should we bear with such injustice? Our fathers have told us that YHWH did great things for our people in the past. Why is he not doing them again now?
The author of the Book of Wisdom replies to all of these questions by saying that the power of God is always great, but he does not use it to punish or bring evil to people because he is gentle and forbearing with everybody. He is the Lord of all, and has power over the just and the unjust alike. He cannot and will not reserve his love only for a chosen few.
Some people use their power to frighten, intimidate and subdue others, to force them into obedience and respect. But God does not behave like this. He is “the Master” of power but he does not convert people by sending them punishments or striking them with his lightning and piling adversities on them, as the Jews and we too at times, would like to see him do, but by showing them gentleness and forbearance. The last verse gives us two reasons why God acts this way. In the first place God does it to teach his people that the just must love people, ‘all people’, not only the good ones; and in the second place he wants to give sinners the possibility to convert.
This reading is very topical also for us now. Don’t some Christians of our communities consider themselves a group of “just” surrounded by an evil world? Have we never felt the wish that God should intervene and punish the wicked? Have we ever ourselves threatened God’s punishment? Did we perhaps ever interpret certain misfortunes or diseases as punishment from God? This is not how God thinks or acts! He does not love only the just and the good: he loves all, even the wicked; because they too are his creatures and the only thing he wants is that they change their lives in order to be truly happy.
Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16.
The Psalm reflects on various qualities of God. He is the God of leniency and forgiveness found in Wisdom. He is the God of all nations such as we find in Deutero-Isaiah (42:6). He is the Covenant described in Exodus (Ex 34:6).
Paul observes that we do not really know how to pray. We do not know what we should be asking of God; that is why the Spirit comes to our aid and tells us what we should beseech the Father for. This kind of prayer that comes from the Spirit will always be granted because it is according to the mind of God; thus to pray means to let oneself be led by the Spirit. The Spirit will draw us closer to God and to our brothers and sisters. Some things cannot be put into words. The feeling of love between two people is often exchanged by a long and lingering gaze; a need can be eloquently spoken by an outstretched hand.
These gestures can sometimes describe our feelings more clearly than the spoken word. When we pray with the Spirit, we bring all these experiences and more to the moment.
We desire to surrender ourselves to the God we cannot see, and our speech becomes lame in relation to what we hold in our hearts. The Spirit is available as a messenger of our great longing, a new language that is given to us, a language that God understands.
In today’s Gospel we have three short parables. The first, told only in Matthew, says that in good seeds grow alongside bad seeds until the harvest. The weeds in the garden describe a common experience of farmers. They prepare the soil well, they sow the seed but invariably as the seed grows, weeds grow up alongside with it.
In this opening parable, Jesus had likened the spreading of the Kingdom of Heaven to the activity of a sower. Many of Jesus’ hearers were farmers who knew that weeds must be eliminated if a good crop is to be expected. Now when they hear the parable of the good seed growing alongside the bad seed till harvest, they realize that this sower is not an ordinary farmer because he allows the good and the bad seed to grow together. The seed of God’s Kingdom is sown but encounters obstacles. In some places it is successful, in others not. The sower does not lose his patience and act irrationally.
The parable of the darnel in the midst of the wheat is a reflection of profound wisdom. It can be applied as much to our personal lives as to the Church. We are mysterious mixtures of divine and human, of grace and free will, of divine seed and human soil. Nobody has the right to expect a perfect crop, nor a perfect Church. The Church would no longer be a home for us if it were perfect. God is mild in judgement and governs with great lenience.
God does not eliminate all those who do not immediately comply with the demands of the Kingdom. Everybody is given until the end-time. Jesus explained how God loves both sinners and the virtuous alike in the first Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:43-48). For St. Paul, God’s patient kindness is our opportunity for conversion (Rm. 2:4). The harvest is an image of ‘Judgment’ because there is something final about a harvest. The process of growth is finished. We grow spiritually through the choices we make whether we care about God and others or only for ourselves. At the end of our life’s journey, the final judgment will simply be the recognition of the choices we have willingly made in this life-time.
The second parable, found also in Mark 4:30-32 and Luke 13:18-19, compares the kingdom to a tiny seed that grows into a big shrub. The third parable compares the small beginnings of the Kingdom and its end result to the action of yeast in the baking of bread (Matthew 13:33). The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast have one point in common: even something very tiny at the beginning may, reveal great growth potential.
The mustard seed, the size of a grain of dust, if sown and cared for, will grow into a shrub big enough to provide shade and nesting for birds. A tiny bit of yeast can leaven flour and cause dough to rise and become bread. Such examples Jesus uses to encourage his disciples. They are not many and their Master has no political power or economic clout. Yet, in Jesus, in his teaching and in his healing, God’s reign has begun and will grow.
Jesus left the crowds to develop the potential of the small group of disciples. How would we feel about the future of the Church if there were eleven dedicated Christians, fully committed to the three legs of Christian life – prayer, study and action? The mustard seed is tiny; the yeast is hidden in the mix. It all looks so tiny and insignificant and one could easily doubt that anything would ever come of it. However, time will show that these tiny beginnings carry the promise of great social and spiritual revolution, unlike the world has ever known.
And the fire? Yes, there is the fire that a Christian must firmly believe in: it is the fire of the love of God that can burn away all the evil that is concealed in the hearts of people. This destruction of all evil can only be accomplished by God. Through Jesus our relationship with God has been restored, and we can be assured of God’s forgiveness and mercy when we have truly repented and have opened up our hearts to the power of love.
Consider the nature of the weeds in your life that are destined for destruction.
How much more valuable time do you want to give over to the dead-end proposition that they represent? Let us get the all-consuming fire of love burning in our hearts!
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way the Truth And the Life’:
Almighty God and Father, on the… of the week following the
16th. Sunday of Ordinary Time: Year A, we reflect on …
Sun … Do we often wonder why that those of us who observe the Law of God are constantly humiliated and oppressed, while many unbelievers who lead a sinful and corrupt life seem to prosper and enjoy an easy life? Is it fair and just? We then ask ourselves why does God not intervene and put some order in our world? Is God not a God of justice? Does God not love his people?
Mon. … The Book of Wisdom tells us that God does not use his great power to punish people in this world who have sinned and committed evil. The results of their sins will punish them! God does not convert people by striking them down or punishing them as we would sometimes wish he would do but by showing them forgiveness, forbearance and gentleness. God acts in this way to show us that we must love all people, not just the good ones; and wants to give those who have sinned the opportunity to repent. At some stage in our lives we could have been one of the oppressors and sinners! Where would we be then but for God’s great love and mercy?
Tues. … In a world where we can do almost anything, how do we decide what we should do and what we should never do? This is a question for us who live in free society like ours. The more we have to choose, the more ‘just’ we need to be. The more we seek to be, the more we need to exercise ‘love and mercy’. The ‘One’ who knows and exercises perfect power is also the very source of love, justice and mercy.
Wed. … When we pray, we desire to surrender ourselves to the God we cannot see and our words can be lame in relation to what we hold in our hearts. The Spirit is the messenger of our great longings who will carry the fire of love within us to our Father.
Thurs. … The parable of the darnel in the midst of the wheat is a reflection of profound wisdom. It can be applied to each one of us and also to the Church. We are all mysterious mixtures of divine and human, of grace and of free will. Nobody has the right to expect a perfect crop. The Church would no longer be a home for us if we were perfect! Church-bashers take note: “If you find the perfect sect or group you are bound in conscience to join it; but remember that once you have joined, it will be perfect no longer”.
Frid. … Jesus calls the reign of God a season of harvest and ruin, a time of final judgment. He also sees it in terms of a small, yet uncompromising seed that blooms into grandness beyond all expectation. Jesus gives each one of us the ‘seed’. Do we enrich our hearts with the word?
Sat. … Jesus adds the final parable to compare the humble beginnings of the Kingdom to a woman adding yeast to make bread mixing it with three measure of flour till it was leavened all through. The end result will be like the actions of the yeast. Will we allow ourselves to grow in faith?
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, we pray for wisdom to always recognize your great love and mercy. May we be aware of our many imperfections and strive to make the right choices for the glory of the Kingdom as we walk along the difficult road towards eternal life. We pray for the gift of faith and love as a ‘mustard seed’ that it may grow beyond all expectation.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.