Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Book of Wisdom provides this weekend’s first reading. Wisdom is the name not only of this book of the Old Testament, but of an entire set of writings. Collectively, the purpose is to convey in human language, and for situations in human life, the wisdom that can come only from God.
Always important as backdrop in reading the Wisdom literature, or in reading any Scripture for that matter, is the admission that humans necessarily are limited. We cannot understand everything. We cannot see everything. Even what we see at times, and perhaps more often than not, is distorted and blurred.
We need God. We simply cannot survive without divine wisdom. God offers this in the revealed Scriptures.
This weekend’s reading salutes God, the almighty, the perfect, the perfectly just and all-knowing. The reading is highly poetic and lyrical, almost as if it were a hymn.
Marvelous for us, this supreme, perfect God assists us despite our limitations. We have nothing to want or to fear if we listen to God, the source of all wisdom.
St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is the source of this very brief reading, the second lesson for this weekend’s Liturgy of the Word.
Stressed here are our weakness and our limitations. Even our prayers are weak, handicapped by our sinfulness and selfishness all too often. God, however, supplies. As disciples of Jesus, born again in the life of Jesus, we speak with the life and strength of the Holy Spirit.
For the last reading, the church presents a parable from St. Matthew’s Gospel, using agricultural imagery. At the time of Jesus, the planting and growing of crops, or the keeping of herds, was the most popular livelihood. This familiar story of the sower who planted good seed in his field would have been understood by all who heard the Lord speak.
Jesus says that the story resembles the kingdom of God. Each component, the landowner, the slave, the enemy, and so on, fit into the overall picture.
To recall the story, at night, an enemy comes and sows the seeds of weeds in the landowner’s field, tended by the slaves. In time, both grain and weeds come forth.
One is good, the other bad. God will separate the good from the bad. He will decide.
Another parable follows. It is the story of a mustard seed, a tiny piece of matter. Although only a seed, it has the potential of life and growth. In time, it becomes a great tree.
Finally, Jesus gives the apostles a special and much more detailed lesson. He explains the parable.
The first step in learning about Christianity is to accept the church’s doctrine of original sin and its effects upon all people. God created everyone and vested in each what the theologians call “free will.” Some use this will to be loyal to God; others choose disloyalty. The devil tempts us to sin.
So, in God’s creation, people divide between saints and sinners, blossoming plants or weeds. The devil sows seeds of the weeds.
In the end, God will right all wrongs. Justice will prevail. In the meantime, it is required of us to realize that faith is a seed within us, planted by God. We must nourish it and protect it.
We can allow, and assist, the seed within us to grow to maturity, which is personal sanctity and final reward with God in heaven. Or we can reject God.
We have our free wills. We can choose to be faithful to God or not.
God’s kingdom is filled with life and reward, but it is not foisted upon us. God does not invade our souls.
We must choose God, but we often endure life among the weeds.
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