XVI Sunday in ordinary time

XVI Sunday in ordinary time

Gio, 16 Lug 20 Lectio Divina - Anno A

 

1st Reading:   Wisdom 12:13, 16-19

Responsorial Psalm:   Psalms 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16

2nd Reading:   Romans 8:26-27

Gospel        :   Matthew 13:24-43

 

The author of the book of Wisdom depicts God, who surprises us with His ways that are different and acts with a logic that is beyond human reasoning. He is kind, merciful and patient to all and cares for everyone. He judges with clemency and governs with lenience. These deeds of God are pedagogical measures: to teach His people to be kind and is a positive reinforcement to hope in God’s mercy that gives way for repentance. The psalmist in Psalm 86 proclaims the same characteristics of God. 

The second reading taken from the letter to the Romans is an answer to our uncertainty of how to respond to God who is merciful, gracious, abounding in kindness and fidelity.  The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness, for the Spirit intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. 

This Sunday we are given the parable of the weeds with its explanation and the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast. We are in Matthew chapter 13 dedicated to parables. The parable of the weeds is found only in Matthew. At this point in the narrative, Mark (4: 26-29) reports the parable of the seed, which grows by itself, "automatically": "whether [the sower] sleeps or watches". Matthew inserts here the explanation of how there may be bad seed in the same field, and this occurs "while men sleep", regardless of their will.

The weed is a species of Bermuda grass that grows as tall as wheat and is not removed until harvest. It looks like good wheat, but its grains are black. The Greek term derives from the Rabbinic Hebrew zun-zunim, which would derive from the root zanah: prostitute oneself. You can read here the idea that the grains are degenerated wheat.

In particular, the parable of the weeds answers the questions: "Where do the plants that do not bear fruit come from and why are they not uprooted? Origin of evil? Behind the servants' question: Lord, did you not sow good seed in the field? Where do the weeds come from?  We see a question as old as man: if God is good, why does evil exist in the world? The master simply replies: an enemy has done this. God does not give too many explanations: there is an enemy, someone who has chosen to refuse love, presence of evil and absence of good. 

The parable of the mustard seed puts the accent on the disproportion between the initial seed and the tree that the seed manages to produce. You can also note another meaning, for which the Gospel of John helps us. If the grain of wheat fallen on the ground does not die, it remains alone; but if it dies it produces much fruit (Jn 12:24). Matthew remains in the same line when he says:" Whoever wants to save his life, will lose; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Mt 10:39 and 16:25). This parable of the mustard seed therefore reveals to us that the kingdom of heaven is a prodigious divine power, with unpredictably great results, and is put in place by a small often hidden gesture, most often ignored by all: the gift of one's life.

This parable of the leaven too is centered on the gift of life. The focus is on the hidden action of the yeast, which ferments the whole dough: to obtain this result, a little yeast is enough. However, what is emphasized here is not the disproportion between the amount of yeast and the dough, but on the fact that the yeast must be hidden, buried in flour to develop its fermenting action.

In the parables of this Sunday, Jesus reveals how God acts in history, how His Kingdom of love spreads. It is a reality to take note of; there is evil, we must neither be surprised nor discouraged, but work hard for good! Farmers would like to eradicate the weeds immediately, but the owner does not want to: only in the end, there will be the harvest and separation. God seem to be an inexperienced farmer?! Why this? Because God loves us, he wants everyone's salvation: for this he is patient, he allows us to grow, he does not chastise us at the first mistake, but he waits for our conversion with merciful love. How many times we also make the servants' proposal: we are already weeding the weeds; we want to cut away with all those who do wrong! This often arises from an exaggerated fear of evil and of those who commit it, which God certainly does not know; or from a zealous, but hard and uncompromising attitude, which arises from blindness about oneself and one's own miseries which leads to closing oneself towards others and demanding perfection from them, in the name of a dangerous "all at once", which is quite different from the patience of God who causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Mt. 5:45).

How many times do we forget the goodness that God has for us: our limits are the space where we experience the mercy of God; the limits of others become the space where we are called to practise mercy. We should not be surprised at the existence of evil, nor at our own or that of others, but rather at being sorry and humbly working to change with God's help! Remember the Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. Patience, with oneself and with others, is not a pretense of anything or a letting go, but it is the intensity of love, a sign of a big heart, which does not confuse sin and sinner, which endures, supporting, correcting and encouraging, so that the other can also grow and mature, transforming, why not, from weeds to good wheat!

We are called to learn to live in the midst of the weeds, to sanctify ourselves within this world and within these situations. The mixture between wheat and weeds should not surprise us, we will find it everywhere: starting from our heart, and therefore in the family, in the community, in the whole Church. Be careful not to imagine an idyllic perfection, which will only occur in paradise. There is no ideal person, the ideal family, the ideal community, but there is the real one to love, with all strengths and weaknesses! It is a reality to take note of; there is evil, we must neither be surprised nor discouraged, but work hard for good! Sow good seeds could be tiny like a mustard seed or like a little measure of leaven in the dough. But it has an immeasurable effect.

Why does Jesus speak to the crowds in parables? The explanation is given by the quotation of Ps 78:2, I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old.  The mysteries of the kingdom are "hidden things" which only now, with the gospel of Jesus, are beginning to be revealed. Yes, however, revealed in parables: a certain discipline of the unfathomable remains. The parable is the most suitable instrument to express the inexpressible, to allude to the unspeakable; an instrument that wants to reveal things that still operate secretly and unpredictably since they refer to how God realizes his plan in history.

Let us meditate

- Have I ever been a weed, not allowing the growth of the good wheat? 

- How is my attitude towards who seems to me to be "weeds" in the midst of good wheat?

- What do I sow in the surroundings in which I live?

- How sincere am I in my prayer, “Lord, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespassed against us?

Let us pray

Show favor, O Lord, to your servants and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace, that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity, they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.