Monday, July 17, 2017

Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven - July 23, 2017

The Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A

Reading I:  Wisdom 12:13,16-19

Psalm:  86

Reading II:  Romans 8:26-27

Gospel:   Matthew 13:24-43

Jesus uses parables, stories to teach a lesson, because they are of familiar things and situations. Also, they are easy to remember. In today’s Gospel, He tells the parables of the Kingdom of God. He talks about a farmer who sows good seed in his field. However, during the night, an enemy sows weeds in with the wheat seeds. Surprisingly, the farmer allows the weeds to grow along with the wheat. When asked if the weeds should be dug up and thrown away, he says “No, if you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until  the harvest...” 

The farmer represents the merciful God, El Rachum, pronounced
El Ra’oom (There is no English equivalent of “ch” - a guttural sound is made at the back of the throat.) He wants to give us sufficient time to change our ways. He is patient with us. He gives us grace (help) if we will accept it. Thus, He enables us to be saved for the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Then, Jesus tells another parable about a mustard seed which is extremely small. However, when it grows it becomes a very large bush, so that the birds dwell in its branches. Thus, He predicts that the Good News of God’s love and salvation, though initially presented to the Jewish people, will in time be spread to peoples of every race and nation. Many will have the opportunity to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

I used to feel overwhelmed while praying the “Our Father,” I would say “Thy Kingdom Come.” I would question how I could bring about the Kingdom of God. Then, I began to realize that I could make the Kingdom come in my own heart, by letting the Spirit of Love reign there.  

Finally, in another parable, Jesus talks about a woman who mixes yeast in with wheat flour, and how it leavens all the dough. I now realize that, as Christians we are all called to be leaven, extending the truth and love of God to all peoples wherever we are. 

This has been reinforced by my current experience of living in a retirement community, after many years on the Missions. I see that we can still be leaven — bringing love to all in our new situation — among peoples of many faiths.

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Parábola del Sembrador

Jesús usa parábolas, historias para enseñar una lección, porque son cosas y situaciones familiares. Además, son fáciles de recordar. En el Evangelio de hoy, Él dice las parábolas del Reino de Dios. Habla de un granjero que siembra buena semilla en su campo. Sin embargo, durante la noche, un enemigo siembra las malas hierbas con las semillas de trigo. Sorprendentemente, el agricultor permite que las malas hierbas crezcan junto con el trigo. Cuando se le pregunta si las malas hierbas deben ser desenterradas y arrojadas, dice: “No, si usted levanta las malas hierbas, puede arrancar el trigo junto con ellas. Que crezcan juntos hasta la cosecha ...”

El granjero representa al Dios misericordioso, El Rachum, pronunciado El Ra'oom (No hay equivalente en inglés de "ch" - se hace un sonido gutural en la parte posterior de la garganta.) Él quiere darnos tiempo suficiente para cambiar nuestros caminos. Él es paciente con nosotros. Él nos da gracia (ayuda) si la aceptamos. Así, Él nos capacita para ser salvos para el Reino de los Cielos.

Entonces, Jesús cuenta otra parábola acerca de una semilla de mostaza que es extremadamente pequeña. Sin embargo, cuando crece se convierte en un arbusto muy grande, por lo que los pájaros habitan en sus ramas. Así, predice que la Buena Nueva del amor y la salvación de Dios, aunque inicialmente presentada al pueblo judío, se extenderá con el tiempo a los pueblos de cada raza y nación. Muchos tendrán la oportunidad de entrar en el Reino de los Cielos.

Solía ​​sentirme abrumado mientras rezaba el “Padre Nuestro”,
yo diría “Venga Tu Reino”. Me preguntaba cómo podría hacer
el Reino de Dios. Entonces comencé a darse cuenta de que podía hacer que el Reino viniera en mi corazón, dejando que el Espíritu del Amor reinara allí.

Finalmente, en otra parábola, Jesús habla de una mujer que mezcla la levadura con harina de trigo, y cómo leuda toda la masa. Ahora me doy cuenta de que, como cristianos, todos somos llamados a ser levadura, extendiendo la verdad y el amor de Dios a todos los pueblos dondequiera que estemos.

Esto ha sido reforzado por mi experiencia actual de vivir en una comunidad de jubilados, después de muchos años en las Misiones. Veo que todavía podemos ser levadura - trayendo amor a todos en nuestra nueva situación - entre los pueblos de muchas creencias.


  1. Walking up the steps leading to my front door I winced as I noticed the messiness of my little garden. Too little time to devote to tending it, along with several days of rain, resulted in the weeds running the show. Early in the season I planted colorful flowering annuals carefully spacing them for their loveliness to shine as they grew. Today they are hidden amongst weeds. It is so easy for weeds to overtake a garden.
    I love the image you used of God as farmer. That vision fits well against the backdrop of the sowing of seeds and the presence of weeds that Jesus speaks of in this week’s gospel. I had a thought about the weeds signifying the poor choices we make – compromising our free will – for the things of the world.
    Just as the mustard seed grows into something larger, so too can our faith. Jack Wellman, in an article he wrote discussing “Mustard Seed Faith,” which can be found on, gave some interesting facts on the mustard tree that I would like to share with your readers. “The tree can grow in arid, dry climates and thrive even in clay or sandy soil. It can grow in hot, dry weather or cool, wet climates. I see the mustard seed as being symbolic of faith in that our faith can be tested in the ‘dry times,’ the most difficult of circumstances (drought, poor soil, and in clay or sandy ground). Also, even if the tree is cut down to the trunk, it can grow back again, so the analogy is that even during times of pruning, the believer can overcome and come back stronger than ever, just like the mustard tree that’s been severely pruned, even if only a tiny bit of faith remains. The mustard tree is drought tolerant and if we have faith even the size of a tiny mustard seed, we too can tolerate the dry times in our lives, the difficult growing seasons of a Christian, and even when we are ‘planted’ in poor soil we can still grow with even a small amount of faith.”
    There is no denying that when we are connected to our divine nature life is easier. However, sustaining that connectedness requires intentional time and nurturing. It is so easy to become distracted and get side-railed. Each moment I must choose what I want to do and which direction I want to go. My deep concern is that with so many people abandoning weekly worship at church, how will children know of God and faith. Unless they are receiving some type of religious instruction or are exposed to some level of spirituality they may grow up not knowing that they are loved and carry the Seed of God within them. Thus, your comment on our being called to be leaven is an extremely urgent message. If faith is placed solely on humans, people will be chronically disappointed because we are weak and flawed and cannot provide the unconditional love and mercy that only God can. It is unbearable to listen to the media news as details of brutality and torture escalate daily. The seed of faith lies dormant in far too many souls, longing to be watered and cultivated.
    Henri Nouwen often wrote about Jesus as the Blessed One who came into the world to share His blessing with us and to share the good news that we are beloved sons and daughters of the Father. In these dark and challenging times, mindful of our blessing, we can live as God’s blessed children and by calling on our faith we can find the courage to share that blessing with others.
    I expressed my concern for children and you mention the elderly in the retirement community. I received the following statement in an email this past Monday. “A single thought can lead to an action that changes your life profoundly. The other day a young man here in Hawaii was arrested as a terrorist. He had been searching about religion on YouTube. He eventually became a jihadist and will probably go to prison for life.” Had he learned about Jesus maybe his outcome would have been different. It is good for us to be aware that regardless of age, the message of God’s Presence and love needs to be heard.
    Have a productive week everyone; I’ve got some weeding to do!

  2. Sr. Therese MW. SBSJuly 18, 2017 at 11:54 AM

    Yes. Jesus, in his wisdom, knew that parables, with their simple but uniquely fascinating appeal, can present profound and vital truths in a really delightful way. The three in this week's Gospel are probably familiar to most of us.

    The following excerpts are from a homily by Father Charles Irvin:

    "You and I, like all good farmers who continually face floods and disasters of every sort, need to seriously engage ourselves in the enterprise of faith and hope, planting what we have, planting the best of what we have, and then feeling God's sun, wind, and gentle rains do the rest. God's only-begotten Son, along with the gentle breath of the Holy Spirit, provide waters of grace to nourish and sustain what He has planted in the lives of those we love. The best years of our lives, and the best we have to give others in them, or are giving right now, or will give in the future - will not be fruitless."

    "Sure, our world is a mess now, but it always has been. We need to see that there is also an amazing amount of goodness in it. The greatest miracle of all is not at Lourdes, or Fatima, it's found in those around us; in those who are, in spite of terrible odds, yielding up love, kindness, caring, and sensitivity thirty, sixty, and a hundred-fold. We have our modern day heroes among us who are leading us as never before in efforts to rid our world of oppression, racism and injustice."

    "And so, O Christian, keep on planting God's good seeds in the lives of those near to you, for God Himself has said through his prophet Isaiah that His word shall go forth from His mouth ... 'and it shall not return to Me void, but shall do my will achieving the end for which I sent it.' (Isaiah 55:11)"

    "Faith and hope are what should be in our hearts, not defeat and despair."

    Father Charles Irvin
    Diocese of Lansing
    Homily for July 16, 2017

    "They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar as with eagles' wings. They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint." Isaiah 40:31