Just a Word… Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Just a word… Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time… July 19, 2020

“Blessed Jesus, you have said, knock and it will be opened to you; seek and you will find; ask and you will receive. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I knock, I ask and I seek…” fill in the blank with your particular request. Many, many years ago, when I was struggling to understand a situation in my life, a friend of my mother’s, who happened to be a Sister of Mercy, offered me this prayer as a way to focus my petition to God for the resolution of the difficulty I was facing. I find myself returning to this prayer on a fairly regular basis…I can assure you, it is effective. In fact, I prayed it when thinking about our Gospel today, asking for help in discerning a meaning that might resonate.

What came to me was that the three subjects of Jesus’ focus, the wheat and weeds, the mustard seed and the leaven, are all about growing. They each engage in hidden activity, seemingly insignificant at first, but resulting in finished products that belie their beginnings. I wondered if one purpose of Jesus’ words was to reorient our attention to the small things in our lives, rather than to point out monumental occurrences in order to make a point. Perhaps, the wheat field with its attendant weeds, rather than highlighting the difference between good and bad, might actually be a warning not to make judgments before their time, as God alone searches hearts. Appearances can be deceiving. Perhaps it is to tell us not to be so distracted by the weeds that we forget or ignore the goodness and beauty of the wheat. Then again, maybe it is to wake us up to the reality that we are all both wheat and weeds, a mixed bag. None of us is perfect, neither the wheat nor the weeds.

Consider then the idea that each of Jesus’ subjects shares the need for room to grow, whether in a field, or in a kitchen. God sees things differently than we do…God’s ways are not our ways. As with wheat and weeds, mustard seeds and yeast, we humans need room to grow, to mature. Our psalm tells us that God is good and forgiving, abounding in kindness, slow to anger. Our God is a God of second, third and seventy-seventh chances. Perhaps that is why the Master in our parable doesn’t rush to pull up the weeds, but patiently waits until the harvest; maybe God’s transforming presence isn’t finished with the weeds before then. And that, my friends, gives this sometimes weed, great hope.

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