July 20, 2014 – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wis 12: 13, 16-19; Ps 86: 5-6, 9-10, 15-16; Rom 8: 26-27; Mt 13: 24-43
“But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us.” That quote, taken from our first reading from the Book of Wisdom, presents God as the merciful and loving God He is. Our readings for this Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time span from this God of Mercy to the help of the Holy Spirit in our prayers to Jesus making it clear to us that we must view ourselves as the soil in which God plants seeds of wisdom and understanding and truth and love.
The Book of Wisdom, from which our first reading is drawn, is attributed by many to Solomon. In fact, it is called in several circles as The Book of the Wisdom of Solomon. For our purposes it is not important who the author was, but he has written is holy in nature and notable for that reason. “Wisdom” in itself is difficult for most of us to grasp; however, the “wisdom” contained in this Book, and in this reading, guide us to the means to achieve wisdom, and the fruits such wisdom can produce. One of the keys to a life of stewardship is understanding that we are gifted with many fruits and we are called to multiply those fruits and return them with surplus to the Lord and others.
The point of the first reading is that we understand that God is merciful to us because He loves us. It also is one of the many prophetic statements about the love and redeeming grace of Jesus Christ: “…you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.”
The second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans speaks of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit to assist us in prayer. If you have ever committed yourself to adoration, or some other form of prayer, you may sometimes find yourself sitting (or kneeling) at a loss of what to think or say. What Paul emphasizes is that we must pray; we must commit the time to pray; however, we must also accept the fact that God through the Holy Spirit will guide us in our prayers. “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought.” The fundamental recipe here is that we must on a regular basis set time aside to pray, time to be with the Lord. Often we lose sight of the fact that prayer is a two way street — it is not just us proclaiming to God our needs, our wants, and our gratitude. It is also just listening to hear what God has to say.
The Gospel from Matthew, in which Jesus relates the Parable of the Sower, might be summarized quite simply, “Judge not lest you be judged.” Jesus makes it clear that when the tares (weeds) are discovered among the wheat, it is not our job to either decide what are weeds or to separate them from the good wheat, the fruits. That will be done at the Lord at harvest time, on Judgment Day. As stewards sometimes we become too involved with what those around us are doing. We must present ourselves as good soil and as good “wheat.” God will take care of the rest. One of the shortest of Jesus’ parables is included in today’s Gospel as well — the Parable of the Mustard Seed. This is significant to each of us. Although we, like the mustard seed, may seem small and insignificant, through our stewardship efforts, combined with those around us making similar efforts, the Kingdom of God can grow to an unimaginable size which can accommodate a host of those in need.