The first reading today has a familiarity about it. Many of the aspects of it are in a prayer we use every day. The words Jesus taught us when He told us to call God Our Father. There is an acknowledgement that there are no other gods like Him, as Our Father is in heaven. It mentions a god who cares for everything, a god whose sovereignty is secure and whose forgiveness is unquestionable, governing us with leniency. Setting an example for us to be lenient and kindly towards our fellow men and that by forgiving others; we can approach God our merciful Father, for forgiveness.
The psalm continues the message ‘O Lord, you are good and forgiving’, the words used are beautiful as we come close to repeating the sentiment in the Penitential Act from earlier in the Mass as we ask God, who is full of compassion and mercy to ‘take pity on me.’
There is a crucial message in the second reading, which again comes from the letter of St Paul to the Romans. St Paul’s message is that we cannot do things solely under our own power; we need the help of God through the gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit. The example given by St Paul is on what to say in prayer, recognising that the words which we use are insufficient to express what God means to us.
In last week’s Gospel we heard St Matthew say that Jesus taught in parables, and we had the Parable of the Sower. This week in a continuation of the same Gospel we hear three parables in quick succession. The first one emphasises again that God does things differently to how man would do things. People will often question the existence of God by saying ‘if there is a God who is good, why does He let so many evil things happen?’
One answer to this is in the parable of the wheat and the darnel. While God does not want any of His children to suffer, sometimes we can get caught up in the wrong place or be with the wrong people; who have the wrong motivation; taking us away from God. Man’s way would perhaps be to go in and try to root out all of the troublemakers or evil ones as soon as they notice there is trouble. Man’s way risks the good becoming collateral damage. God waits until the time is right as only He knows the big picture.
What is represented by the darnel in our lives?
Darnel looks like wheat; it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference until closer to the harvest time.
Are there things in our lives that we convince ourselves are okay, when we know deep down that they are not?
Are there things which we see other people do and criticise, knowing that we do similar things ourselves?
I know that when I am dieting and doing well on it, I can become very judgemental when I see people overeat or not exercise; yet time after time I find myself back in that same position.
We then have the parable of the mustard seed. Jesus tells the people that the kingdom of heaven starts very small and grows into something which is great. Our faith starts off just like that small seed; very small; but when we allow God and those who follow His path to water it and nurture it; then it becomes something so great that we can draw others in. Just like the birds in the parable who took shelter in the mustard tree branches. If other people see our good works and how happy our faith makes us then they will have a desire to be like us.
If we think about how the Church started with Jesus selecting twelve men and how the Holy Spirit has worked; allowing it to grow and continues to grow today. When we make ourselves small God does great things in us, allowing us to grow in our faith and building up His Kingdom.
Likewise in the parable of the yeast, we hear how the flour is changed by the introduction of the yeast; the flour is transformed. If we see ourselves like the flour and the yeast is the grace of God; we can experience a real transformation. The grace of God works in silence, just like the yeast changes the flour silently and works its way through the flour; so does the grace of God work in us; if we allow it. To allow the grace of God to work in us we need to be prepared to be changed; turning away from bad habits, adopting and developing good habits, getting to know Jesus better through the Scriptures; allowing God to use us to help other people and being prepared to accept help ourselves when we need it.
Jesus spoke to the people using parables, this allowed him to use familiar everyday scenes to teach the masses, the Word of God. Today, we as missionary disciples of Jesus [through our baptism] are called to use whatever means we have, to continue that work.
Who does God have in our heart, for us to reach out to?
Ask God in your prayer time, who does He need you to reach out to today. If someone comes to mind, ask God how you should do this; remember this is not to be done under our own power, God wants to use us and will empower us to do His will.
We’ve already heard a lot in the readings today about life and growth. Perhaps it’s no coincidence then, that today, the church celebrates Grandparents and the elderly. As they were given life from their parents, so too they have gone on to see their own lineage be produced. As a grandfather, I experience incredible joy spending time with my grandchildren.
Part of my role is to pass on my faith to them, in the hope that the seeds I plant one day may resemble that mustard tree. I’m under no illusion that this will be easy; the world will play its part in trying to take them from God’s path. Therefore, I pray today for all Grandparents; that they will be close to their grandchildren and that they will use their influence in the most positive way, to model what ‘missionary disciples’ should look like.
In his message for this day, Pope Francis links this day being so close to World Youth Day with Mary’s visit to Elizabeth when she heard news of both of their pregnancies. Pope Francis encourages all of those attending World Youth Day to visit their grandparents or someone elderly before they set off on their journey, to promise to pray for that person while at the Youth Day events and in turn for the older person to pray for their pilgrimage to be protected.
God’s message today is that He needs us to sow seeds, He wants us to be patient, things will happen in His time. With God’s help, faith in Him will transform us and draw others to Him. God will spread His culture throughout everyone He touches because God does things His way. As we make ourselves smaller God makes things greater.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
CCC 543-550: the Kingdom of God
CCC 309-314: God’s goodness and the scandal of evil
CCC 825, 827: weeds and seed of Gospel in everyone and in the Church
CCC 1425-1429: need for ongoing conversion
CCC 2630: prayer of petition voiced profoundly by the Holy Spirit
Please keep in your prayers this week
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those discerning a vocation.
- David who is being ordained to the Sacred priesthood on 22nd July.
- Rudi, Casey-James, Erin and Theodore who are being baptised at St Bede’s this Sunday.