Thứ Bảy, 22 tháng 7, 2017

JULY 23, 2017 : SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 106

There is no god besides you who have the care of all,
that you need show you have not unjustly condemned.
For your might is the source of justice;
your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.
For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved;
and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.
But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency,
and with much lenience you govern us;
for power, whenever you will, attends you.
And you taught your people, by these deeds,
that those who are just must be kind;
and you gave your children good ground for hope
that you would permit repentance for their sins.

Responsorial PsalmPS 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
R. (5a) Lord, you are good and forgiving.
You, O LORD, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.
R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship you, O LORD,
and glorify your name.
For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;
you alone are God.
R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.
You, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.
Turn toward me, and have pity on me;
give your strength to your servant.
R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.

Reading 2ROM 8:26-27
Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. 
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God's will.

AlleluiaCF. MT 11:25
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 13:24-43 
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. 
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. 
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? 
Where have the weeds come from?'
He answered, 'An enemy has done this.'
His slaves said to him,
'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them. 
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
"First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

He proposed another parable to them. 
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field. 
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. 
It becomes a large bush,
and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'"

He spoke to them another parable. 
"The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened."

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. 
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. 
His disciples approached him and said,
"Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." 
He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. 
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age. 
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. 
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 
Then the righteous will shine like the sun 
in the kingdom of their Father. 
Whoever has ears ought to hear."

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man
who sowed good seed in his field. 
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. 
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. 
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? 
Where have the weeds come from?'
He answered, 'An enemy has done this.'
His slaves said to him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them. 
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
"First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn."'"


16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that passage.

1st Reading - Wisdom 12:13, 16-19

The Book of Wisdom, also called the Wisdom of Solomon, is believed to have been written in the first century before Christ by a Greek-speaking Jew of Alexandria in Egypt. The Egyptian rulers from Ptolamy VIII (116 B.C.) to Cleopatra (30 B.C.) were not well-disposed toward their Jewish subjects. The Jewish religion was despised by the powerful, the wealthy, and the learned. The faith of the Jews was in constant danger of corruption from idolatry and false philosophy. To strengthen the faith of his co-religionists, to console them in their afflictions, to raise their hearts above the sordidness and immorality by which they were surrounded – this was the main purpose of the writer of the Book of Wisdom. But he also had another purpose in view. Many Jews, anxious to gain the good will of the Egyptians, had faltered in their allegiance to Yahweh and gone over to the camp of the enemy. To these unfortunates the sacred writer addresses himself time and again, warning them of the impending judgment of God and conjuring them to return to the path of true Wisdom which alone leads to perfect happiness.

The Book of Wisdom was not written merely for the Jews sojourning in Egypt, but for all men of all times. Every Jew who read it must have been filled with the joyous conviction that God would never forsake His people, and that Israel’s religious ideals were bound to gain the final victory over the pagan world. The Christian finds in it the highest religious and moral lessons – lessons which are of paramount importance today, just as they were over two thousand years ago. The frivolity of the ungodly, the trials and consolations of the pious, the utter discomfiture of the wicked and the serene confidence of the just in the day of judgment, the glorious origin and the supreme excellence of Wisdom, the humble dependence on God of the true seeker after Wisdom – all this is described with a warmth and vividness that cannot but move the heart to its depths and attract it irresistibly to the love and service of God.

In our first reading today the sacred author speaks of God’s merciful discipline of sinners.

13 There is no god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned. 16 For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.

In Wisdom 2:11 the wicked say that their might is the norm of justice. Unlike the wicked, whose weakness and insecurity prompt them to use unjustly what strength they have, God, being all-powerful and unchallenged, experiences no disturbed moral equilibrium and is therefore just and even merciful.

17    For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved;

Pharaoh comes to mind, but it could be true of anyone.

and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.

Temerity is foolish disregard of danger.

18    But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you.

God’s power is His might as well as His ability to control it.

19    And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your sons good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.

2nd Reading - Romans 8:26-27

Today we continue with Saint Paul’s description of the future glory that awaits those who live the Christian life empowered by the Spirit.

26    In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.

Human aspirations risk being inefficacious because of the natural weakness of the flesh, but the Spirit adds its intercession, transcending such weakness. The result is that the Christian utters what would otherwise be impossible; to pray “Abba, Father.” The Spirit must assist the Christian and the Christian who prays it is aware of the manifestation of the Spirit within them.

“It is not possible, says Paul, for us human beings to have a precise knowledge of everything. So we ought to yield to the Creator of our nature and with joy and great relish accept those things which He has decided on and have an eye not to the appearance of events but to the decisions of the Lord. After all, He knows better than we do what is for our benefit, and He also knows what steps must be taken for our salvation.” [Saint John Chrysostom (A.D. 388), Homilies on Genesis, Second Series 30,16]

27    And the one who searches hearts

This is an Old Testament phrase for God (1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39; Psalm 7:11; 17:3; 139:1). Only God Himself understands the language and mind of the Spirit and He recognizes such Spirit assisted prayer.

knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

It was part of His plan of salvation that the Spirit should play such a dynamic role in the aspirations and prayers of Christians.

“It is clear that the prayer of every spirit is known to God, from whom nothing is secret or hidden (see Job 37:16; Acts 15:18; 1 John 3:20) How much more then should [the Father] know what the Holy Spirit, who is the same essence as Himself, is saying?” [The Ambrosiaster (ca. A.D. 366-384), Commentaries on Thirteen Pauline Epistles]

Gospel - Matthew 13:24-43

Our reading today takes over from where last week’s reading ended. Recall that Jesus had just begun teaching in parables and that last week we heard the Parable of the Sower. Today we hear the Parables of the Weeds Among the Wheat, the Mustard Seed, and the Leaven.

24    He [Jesus] proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.

The man who sowed turns out to be a landowner with slaves (verse 27). The slaves are scandalized because there are weeds.

25    While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. 26 When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.

The weed is commonly recognized as darnel, a weed that has resemblance to wheat.

27 The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let them grow together until harvest;

This is the crucial part of the answer. It advocates patience and tolerance until the final sorting.

then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘“

God’s earthly kingdom has both good and bad; the sorting will come at the end.

31 He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.

The mustard seed is not the smallest of all seeds, nor does it become the largest of plants. When full grown, it becomes a shrub some ten to twelve feet in height. The point of this parable is the contrast in sizes: The kingdom which starts from near invisibility will shift quickly to its full grandeur with its universal, all embracing hospitality.

It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

This is possibly an allusion to Daniel 4:20-21.

33 He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”

A small amount of yeast causes the much larger loaf to rise. Likewise, there is a surprising effect that a small movement can have on all society. God’s plan works almost invisibly to bring about its purposes. Yeast (leaven) in the Jewish tradition often had a symbolic meaning of evil. Here, Jesus uses it as a symbol of the power of God. It is possible to see God present and active in everything if we just look at them in wonder.

34 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, 35 to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation (of the world).”

The source of this quotation is Psalm 78:2. The text has been freely adapted to fit the revelation of Jesus. David is called a prophet in Acts 2:30.

36 Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, 38 the field is the world,

Humanity

the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one,

The evil one here is a person who is identified as the devil in the next verse.

39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Just as weeds are collected and burned (up) with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

The Church is not entirely a community of the elect; it has unfaithful members as well. God will tolerate such members in the Church just as He tolerates them in the world at large; but the judgment will determine the final destiny of the righteous and the wicked and will purify the kingdom entirely. The lesson is patient tolerance of the presence of the wicked in the community. God and His angels will sort them out in the end. This doesn’t mean that nothing can be done about the evil in our midst, because weeds left unchecked can choke out the wheat. The Church needs constant reformation and positive action, including the quest for holiness, but it must avoid unrealistic purism – what is needed is that elusive thing called balance. “No one is so useless that they can’t be used as a bad example.”

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS http://www.scborromeo.org


Meditation: "The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father"
What can malicious weed-sowing tell us about the kingdom of God (Matthew 13:25)? The image Jesus uses in this parable is a common everyday example of planting, harvesting, and sorting the good fruit from the bad. Weeds can spoil and even kill a good harvest if they are not separated and destroyed at the proper time. Uprooting them too early, though, can destroy the good plants in the process.
Letting God's word take deep root in the heart
Just as nature teaches us patience, so God's patience also teaches us to guard the seed of his word which he has planted in our hearts and to beware of the destructive force of sin and evil that can destroy it. God's word brings life, but Satan seeks to destroy the good seed which has been planted in the hearts of those who have heard God's word. God's judgment is not hasty, but it does come. And in the end, God will reward each according to what they have sown and reaped in this life. In that day God will separate the evil from the good. Do you allow God's word to take deep root in your heart?
Growth and transformation from within
What can mustard seeds and leaven teach us about the kingdom of God?  The tiny mustard seed literally grew to be a tree which attracted numerous birds because they loved the little black mustard seed it produced. God's kingdom works in a similar fashion. It starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God's word. And it works unseen and causes a transformation from within.
The Holy Spirit transforms us
Leaven is another powerful agent of change. A lump of dough left to itself remains just what it is, a lump of dough. But when the leaven is added to it a transformation takes place which produces rich and wholesome bread when heated - the staple of life for humans. The kingdom of God produces a transformation in those who receive the new life which Jesus Christ offers. When we yield to Jesus Christ, our lives are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Paul the Apostle says, "we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Corinthians 4:7). Do you believe in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit?
Good and evil are sown in our hearts like tiny seeds which germinate, and in due time yield a harvest of good or bad fruit. Charles Read said: "Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny." In the day of judgment each will reap what he or she has sown in this life. Those who sow good will shine in the kingdom of their Father. They will radiate with the beauty, joy, and fullness of God's love. Do you allow the love of Christ to rule in your heart and in your actions?
"Lord Jesus, let your word take root in my heart and may your all-consuming love transform my life that I may sow what is good, worthy, and pleasing to you."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersFaith as a grain of mustard, by Jerome (347-420 AD)
"The man who sows in his field is interpreted by many as the Savior. He sows in the souls of believers. By others he is interpreted as one who sows in his field - that is to say, in himself and in his heart. Who is it that sows if not our mind and heart? They take up the grain of preaching and nurture the plant with the moisture of faith, making it sprout and shoot up in the field of the heart. The preaching of faith in the gospel appears to be least among all tasks. Indeed, anyone who preaches the God-man of truth, Christ who died, and the stumbling block of the cross may not think immediately of mere faith as the primary doctrine. Put this particular doctrine side by side with the teachings of the philosophers, their books, their splendid eloquence and fine discourses, and you will see just how small it is compared with the other seeds of the gospel plant. When those teachings grow, they have nothing to show that is pungent or vigorous or vital. Everything turns out weak and withering in a plant and in herbs that quickly dry up and fall to the ground. But when this tiny gospel teaching that seemed insignificant at the beginning has been planted either in the soul of the believer or throughout the world, it does not turn out to be just a plant. It grows into a tree, so that the birds of the air, which we interpret as the souls of believers or deeds dedicated to the service of God, come and dwell on its branches." (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 2.13.31)
[Jerome  (347-420 AD) was an early church Bible scholar who translated the entire Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek texts into the common language of his day (Latin)].

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
SUNDAY, JULY 23, MATTHEW 13:24-43 or 13:24-30

(Wisdom 12:13,16-19; Psalm 86; Romans 8:26-27)

KEY VERSE: "Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?" (v 27).
TO KNOW: Jesus was a good teacher who employed parables, using the ordinary things of life to reveal the deep mysteries of God's reign. The parables often centered on the domestic, industrial and agricultural work of the community. The parable aroused curiosity, and invited Jesus' audience to search for the meaning, which often applied to their own lives. The parable of the weeds among the wheat revealed that good and evil would exist alongside one another until the Day of Judgment. The weeds in the story were darnel, a noxious plant that closely resembled the wheat. In the early stages of development, it was impossible to distinguish the one from the other. When the wheat ripened, the experienced eye would be able to differentiate between the two. The problem was that the roots were so intertwined that the weeds could not be uprooted without tearing up the wheat. So it is with evil; it is difficult to detect in its early stages until it grows strong and destroys what is good. Jesus cautioned the disciples not to attempt to forcibly root out the unbelievers among the community. The harvest (v. 30) was a common Old Testament symbol for the final judgment. Jesus’ advice was patient tolerance until God would render his verdict on saint and sinner.

TO LOVE: In what ways do I judge others rather than leaving that judgment to God?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, help me to persist in my good work despite the evil that surrounds me.


Sunday 23 July 2017

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Week IV Psalter.
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19. Psalm 85(86):5-6, 9-10, 15-16. Romans 8:26-27. Matthew 13:24-43.
Lord, you are good and forgiving — Psalm 85(86):5-6, 9-10, 15-16.
‘Lord, you are good and forgiving.’
The master in the parable of the weeds tells his workers to leave the weeds among the wheat until harvest time. He is not prepared to harm the wheat by having the weeds uprooted. The loving nature of God is also emphasised in the reading from Wisdom – our God is a God of strength and forbearance, who cares for all people and judges with mildness.
In St Paul’s letter to the Romans we are told of a Spirit that hears us in our weakness and intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Can we surrender to the sigh of the Spirit?
Do we extend this Spirit of compassion to people around us, especially to those we might regard as being more weed than wheat?

ST. BRIDGET OF SWEDEN

Today, July 23, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Bridget of Sweden.  Bridget received visions of Christ’s suffering many times throughout her life, and went on to found the order of the Most Holy Savior.
Daughter of Birger Persson, the governor and provincial judge of Uppland, and of Ingeborg Bengtsdotter, Bridget was born in Sweden in 1303. From the time she was a child, she was greatly devoted to the passion of Jesus.
When she was only ten, it is recorded that she had a vision of Jesus on the cross and heard him say, “Look at me, my daughter."
"Who has treated you like this?" cried little Bridget.
Jesus answered, "Those who despise me and refuse my love for them.”  From that moment on, Bridget tried to stop people from offending Jesus.
When she was 14, Bridget married an 18-year old man named Ulf. Like Bridget, Ulf had set his heart on serving God. They had eight children, of whom one was St. Catherine of Sweden. Bridget and Ulf also served the Swedish court, Bridget as the queen's personal maid. Bridget tried to help King Magnus and Queen Blanche lead better lives, however for the most part, they did not listen to her.
All her life, Bridget had marvelous visions and received special messages from God. In obedience to them, she visited many rulers and important people in the Church. She explained humbly what God expected of them.
After her husband died, Bridget put away her rich clothes and lived as a poor nun. Later, in 1346, she began the order of the Most Holy Savior, also known as Bridgettines. She still kept up her own busy life, traveling about doing good everywhere she went. And through all this activity, Jesus continued to reveal many secrets to her, which she received without the least bit of pride.
Shortly before she died, the saint went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. At the shrines there, she had visions of what Jesus had said and done in each place.
All St. Bridget's revelations on the sufferings of Jesus were published after her death.
St. Bridget died in Rome on July 23, 1373. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Boniface IX in 1391.

"True wisdom, then, consists in works, not in great talents, which the world admires; for the wise in the world's estimation . . . are the foolish who set at naught the will of God, and know not how to control their passions." --Saint Bridget of Sweden.

LECTIO DIVINA: 16TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (A)
Lectio Divina: 
 Sunday, July 23, 2017
The mysterious growth of the Reign
God’s patience
Matthew 13: 24-43

1. OPENING PRAYER
Spirit of truth, sent by Jesus to guide us to the whole truth, enlighten our minds so that we may understand the Scriptures. You who overshadowed Mary and made her fruitful ground where the Word of God could germinate, purify our hearts from all obstacles to the Word. Help us to learn like her to listen with good and pure hearts to the Word that God speaks to us in life and in Scripture, so that we may observe the Word and produce good fruit through our perseverance.
2. READING
a) Division of the text:
The text is made up of three parables, a break, and the explanation of the first parable. The three parables of the darnel and the wheat (13: 24-30), the mustard seed (13: 31-32) and the leaven (13: 33), have the same purpose. They wish to correct the expectations of Jesus’ contemporaries who thought that the Reign of God would come with vehemence and immediately eliminate whatever was contrary to it. Through these parables, Jesus wishes to explain to his listeners that he did not come to restore the Reign by force, but to inaugurate a new era gradually, in the day-to-day history, in a way often unobserved. And yet his work has an inherent strength, dynamism and a transforming power that gradually changes history from inside according to God’s plan…if one has eyes to see!

In 13: 10-17, between the parable of the sower and its explanation, the evangelist inserts a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples where the Master explains to them why it is that he speaks to the crowds only in parables. Here too, between the parables and the explanation, the evangelist inserts a brief comment on the reason why Jesus speaks in parables (13: 34-35).

Then follows the explanation of the parable of the darnel and the wheat (13: 36-43). What is striking in this explanation is that, while many of the details of the parable are interpreted, not a single reference is made to the core of the parable, that is, the dialogue between the owner and his servants concerning the darnel that grew together with the wheat. Many scholars deduce that the explanation of the parable is not from Jesus, but from the evangelist who changes the original sense of the parable. While Jesus meant to correct the messianic impatience of his contemporaries, Matthew addresses lukewarm Christians and exhorts them, almost threatens them, with God’s judgement. However, the parable and the explanation are part of the canonical text and, therefore, both should be considered because both contain the Word of God addressed to us today.
b) The text: 
24-30: He put another parable before them, 'The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, then the darnel appeared as well. The owner's labourers went to him and said, "Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?" He said to them, "Some enemy has done this." And the labourers said, "Do you want us to go and weed it out?" But he said, "No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn." '
31-32: He put another parable before them, 'The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air can come and shelter in its branches.'
33: He told them another parable, 'The kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.'
34-35: In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet: I will speak to you in parables, unfold what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.
36-43: Then, leaving the crowds, he went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, 'Explain to us the parable about the darnel in the field.' He said in reply, 'The sower of the good seed is the Son of man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the Evil One; the enemy who sowed it, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of falling and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the upright will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Anyone who has ears should listen!
3. A moment of prayerful silence
so that the Word of God may enter into us and enlighten our life.
4. Some questions
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) What is your reaction towards the evil that you see in the world and in yourself? Is it the reaction of the servants or that of the owner?
b) What are the signs of the presence of the Reign that you can see in the world and in your life?
c) What image of God appears from these three parables? Is this your image of God?
5. A key to the reading
for those who wish to go deeper into the text.
a) The Reign of God:
In the two compendia that Matthew offers us on the ministry of Jesus, he presents him preaching the Gospel or the good news of the Reign and healing (4: 23; 9: 35). The expression "Reign of Heaven" appears 32 times in Matthew. It is the same as the "Reign of God", found only once in Matthew, whereas it is the more usual expression found in the rest of the New Testament. As a matter of respect, the Jews avoid not only the use of the Name of God as revealed to Moses (see Ex 3: 13-15), but also the word "God" which is substituted by various expressions such as "Heaven" or "The heavens". Matthew, the most Jewish of the Gospels, conforms to this practice.
The expression is not found in the Old Testament, where, however, we often find the idea of the royalty of God over Israel and over the universe and the verbal equivalent of the New Testament’s "God reigns". In fact, the Reign of God, as presented also in the New Testament, is above all the action of God who rules and the new situation as a consequence of his ruling. God has always been ruler, but because of sin, Israel and the whole of humanity avoid his royalty and create a situation opposed to his original plan. The Reign of God will be established when everything will be once more subjected to his dominion, that is, when humanity will accept his sovereignty and thus realise his plan.
Jesus proclaimed the coming of this new era (see for example Mt 3: 2). Somehow the reality of God’s Reign is made present and anticipated in him and in the community he founded. But the Church is not yet the Reign. The Reign grows mysteriously and gradually until it reaches its fulfilment at the end of time.
b) God’s logic:
The reality of the Reign and its growth, as described by Jesus, place us before the mystery of God whose thoughts are not our thoughts. We confuse royalty and force, and impositions, and triumphalism. We like things done on a grand scale. We see success as an undertaking praised and involving many people. However, these are temptations which seduce even the community, and instead of serving the Reign, the community finds itself opposing it. God, on his part, prefers to advance his plan through small, poor and insignificant things and while we are always in a hurry to complete our plans, God waits with great patience and forbearance.
6. PSALM 145
Hymn to the Lord Ruler
I will extol thee, my God and King,
and bless thy name for ever and ever.
Every day I will bless thee,
and praise thy name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall laud thy works to another,
and shall declare thy mighty acts.
On the glorious splendour of thy majesty,
and on thy wondrous works, I will meditate.
Men shall proclaim the might of thy terrible acts,
and I will declare thy greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of thy abundant goodness,
and shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made.
All thy works shall give thanks to thee,
O Lord, and all thy saints shall bless thee!
They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom,
and tell of thy power,
to make known to the sons of men thy mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendour of thy kingdom.
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and thy dominion endures throughout all generations.
The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to thee,
and thou givest them their food in due season.
Thou openest thy hand,
thou satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is just in all his ways,
and kind in all his doings.
The Lord is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
He fulfils the desire of all who fear him,
he also hears their cry, and saves them.
The Lord preserves all who love him;
but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.
7. CLOSING PRAYER
For thou lovest all things that exist,
and hast loathing for none of the things which thou hast made,
for thou wouldst not have made anything if thou hadst hated it.
How would anything have endured if thou hadst not willed it?
Or how would anything not called forth by thee have been preserved?
Thou sparest all things, for they are thine,
O Lord who lovest the living.
Therefore thou dost correct little by little those who trespass,
and dost remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin,
that they may be freed from wickedness
and put their trust in thee, O Lord.
Thou art righteous and rulest all things righteously,
deeming it alien to thy power to condemn him
who does not deserve to be punished.
For thy strength is the source of righteousness,
and thy sovereignty over all causes thee to spare all.
For thou dost show thy strength
when men doubt the completeness of thy power,
and dost rebuke any insolence among those who know it.
Thou who art sovereign in strength dost judge with mildness,
and with great forbearance thou dost govern us;
for thou hast power to act whenever thou dost choose.
Wisdom 11, 24-12,2. 15-18