Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Wisdom 12:13, 16-19; Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43

First Reading: Catholics accept the Book of Wisdom as inspired Scripture, but Jews and Protestants do not. Written around 50 BC, it is part of a collection of biblical writings know as wisdom literature. Today’s passage is part of a longer reflection on God’s mercy.

Psalm 86: Today’s psalm picks up the language of God’s faithful love expressed in his covenant relationship with his people. The mighty creator God, ruler of all nations, whom all nations worship and glorify, is also good, compassionate, and forgiving.

Second Reading: In today’s second reading, Paul refers to anyone “in Christ” as saints or the holy ones. Along with all creation the saints in Christ are on the journey of total union with God, already accomplished in the Risen Lord.

Gospel: The Gospel offers three more parables in Matthew 13, highlighting the parable of the wheat and weeds, with its metaphorical explanation. The parable continues to unpack Matthew’s community’s struggle to understand why some Jews accepted Jesus’ preaching and others did not. Matthew continues to portray Jesus as the ideal teacher who reveals the wisdom and the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Reflection: The “kingdom of heaven” is continually being established by a God who is amazingly patient. Today’s three parables illustrate this very well. In the first, God exercises patience until the wheat grows enough so the weeds can be pulled without destroying the wheat. In the second, God waits patiently until the tiny seed grows into a large enough plant to welcome the birds of the sky. In the third, God patiently allows time for the yeast to work its leavening effect on the dough.

If God is patient with wheat and seed and leaven, how much more is God patient with us! God’s patience in teasing goodness out of us is how the kingdom of heaven grows among us. Being patient with testy children and helping them be good, being patient trying to teach another some skill, being patient with one another’s foibles and weaknesses are all ways God’s patience is present through us. God’s patience abounds, as does the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven as having room for growth and maturation: there are weeds among the wheat, a bush is in growth, and the dough is rising. If we look at each of these, they are not finished products; it takes time and patience to bring them to a desired good end.

The impulse of the first parable is to pull the weeds. The impulse during our whole Christian living is to be impatient with ourselves as we grow in our discipleship. Part of living the paschal mystery is to be patient with ourselves, especially when we have failed. The mercy, forgiveness, leniency, justice, and patience of God encourage repentance. Even our mistakes are ways that we have “ears … to hear” and learn better the ways of God. God’s final judgment comes at the “end of the age” when, hopefully, all of us have lived the ways of patience and faithfulness and have borne fruit.

Question for reflection: How do these parables challenge my discipleship?

Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.

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