July 20, 2014
Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
The Gospel today continues with some parables of Jesus. Parables are intended to
cause the listener to think about them, and reflect on what Jesus meant in
telling them. One can hear the same parable numerous times, and each time gain
a different insight into its' meaning. The three given to us today; the weeds
among the wheat, the mustard seed, and the yeast, are about the Kingdom of
Heaven. As I reflected on them the virtue that stands out is patience.
Gospel Matthew 13: 24 - 43
A common reaction when things in our lives don't go as planned is to quickly
make changes without fully considering the consequences. When the farmer first
realized that weeds were growing in the midst of his wheat he could have
immediately began to get rid of the weeds so as to protect the wheat. But as
Jesus points out, pulling out the weeds would also mean pulling out the wheat.
Jesus calls them to be patient. Patience is a virtue that seems to be seen less
and less today. The patience to wait for the right moment to speak or act is not
always easy. Waiting for God to answer our prayer can be frustrating. We expect
ourselves and others to act quickly in making decisions. The pressure is on for
the quick fix, not the well thought out solution or resolution.
When a child is taught how a little seed grows into a plant, it is common for
the child to keep watching the soil for the plant, then to keep checking every
few moments. One of the first lesson we learn when it comes to planting is that
it takes time. When we plant a seed we aren't going to see the plant, bush or
tree mature for quite a while, sometimes years. Like the mustard seed in the
parable, the seed is so small yet grows into the beautiful flower, spreading
shrub, or mighty tree. It's hard to believe when we look at the seed to envision
how with patience we will see the growth. The same is true in our spiritual
lives. We might have experienced some conversion and we look at our lives and
realize how much we have to change. That realization can become almost
overwhelming and lead us to think that it is impossible to make all these
changes. When the changes don't happen right away we can become frustrated and
discouraged. God is patient with us and we would do well to imitate Christ by
cultivating the virtue of patience. With patience we can walk to road of
conversion, and progress in the spiritual life.
A friend of mine lost his job in a bakery for not allowing the dough to properly
rise. He did mix in the yeast, but failed to place the dough in the right
place, and the leaven wasn't able to do its' work. Instead of regular bread he
ended up with mini-bread. Leaven is essential for baking bread, and just a
little leaven and the right conditions causes the bread to rise. We are blessed
with the leaven of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Present within us they do
their work and help us grow in our Faith. Patience again is the ingredient we
need to see this in our lives, and to wait for the time of the Heavenly Banquet.
It is patience that is needed for us to see the Kingdom of Heaven that is in our
midst. Sometimes our vision of the Kingdom is small, but as we patiently grow
in faith it becomes more and more evident in our lives.
Fr. Killian Loch, O.S.B.