SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A, REFLECTION: PARABLES OF THE WEEDS, THE MUSTARD SEED AND THE LEAVEN
JULY 19, 2020,
Gospel of Sunday, 16th week in Ordinary Time,
Jesus proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”
He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.”
Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Gospel Commentary from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew (with permission).
The mustard seed;
- 31-32 Here, the man is Jesus Christ and the field, the world. The grain of mustard seed is the preaching of the Gospel, and the Church, which from very small beginnings will spread throughout the world.
- The parable clearly refers to the universal scope and spread of the Kingdom of God: the Church, which embraces all mankind of every kind and condition, in every latitude and in all ages, is forever developing, in spite of obstacles, thanks to God’s promise and aid.
- 33 The leaven
- This comparison is taken from everyday experience: just as leaven gradually ferments all the dough, so the Church spreads to convert all nations.
- The leaven is also a symbol of the individual Christian.
- Living in the middle of the world, and retaining his Christian quality, he wins souls for Christ by his word and example: “Our calling to be children of God, in the midst of the world, requires us not only to seek our own personal holiness, but also to go out onto all the ways of the earth, to convert them into roads that will carry souls over all obstacles and lead them to the Lord. As we take part in all temporal activities, as ordinary citizens, we are to become leaven acting on the mass” (St. Josemaria, Christ is passing by, 120).
- 34-35 Revelation, God’s plans, are hidden (cf. Mt 11:25) from those who are not disposed to accept them.
- The evangelist wishes to emphasize the need for simplicity and for docility to the Gospel. By recalling Ps 78:2, he tells us, once more, under divine inspiration, that the Old Testament prophecies find their fulfilment in our Lord’s preaching.
- 36-43: EXPLANATION OF THE PARABLE OF THE WEEDS
- While making its way on earth, the Church is composed of good and bad people, just men and sinners: they are mixed in with one another until the harvest time, the end of the world, when the Son of man, in his capacity as Judge of the living and the dead, will divide the good from the bad at the Last Judgment — the former going to eternal glory, the inheritance of the saints; the latter, to the eternal fire of hell.
- Although the just and the sinners are now side by side, the Church has the right and the duty to exclude those who cause scandal, especially those who attack its doctrine and unity;
- this it can do through ecclesiastical excommunication and other canonical penalties.
- However, excommunication has a medicinal and pastoral function — to correct those who are obstinate in error, and to protect others from them.
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S GOSPEL
TOPIC: Are you a wheat or a weed?
People come together for work, for worship, for worthwhile pursuits or other worldly matters. They bring with them their persona and perspectives, shaped by their life experiences. When people of varying backgrounds come together, differences of opinion are bound to exist.
The parable of the wheat and the weeds are very relevant for us who are members of parishes and renewal communities. God’s word is the good seed that has been planted to bring the community into unity of purpose.
But the devil, so cunning and so sly, sows the bad seed of enmity beside the good seed of unity. Each one of us can be made into a weed when we cannot cope and live with the differences of opinion and perspectives that exist in our community.
Our weed-like tendency is to judge others and choke those who are not like-minded to the point of making them quit from the community.
The parable of the wheat and weeds reminds us not to fall into the trap of ostracizing those who do not think like us or agree with us.
A rich man was so dependent on his servant and expected him to arrive early every day to do the household chores and other menial tasks. He was helpless without his servant. On that fateful day, he waited on his servant but after an hour, the servant had not arrived. The rich man was angry and already thinking of the punishments he will mete out on his late servant. Three hours went by and the servant was still missing. He decided that when and if the servant arrived, he will fire him immediately.
The servant finally arrived at noon. The servant came in without speaking to his master and proceeded to prepare lunch for his boss. The fuming master watched in silence as the servant went about doing the household chores. Finally, the master said, “Stop what you are doing. Get out of this house. You are fired!”
The man kept working quietly and diligently. The master repeated himself. “Get out of this house! I said, ‘You are fired!’”
The man said, “Sir, my little girl died this morning.”
We must be careful not to judge people for we do not know what they are going through.
The devil is so cunning that he plants these seeds in each one of us – envy, judgmental behavior, hot-temperedness, domineering attitude, penchant for lies, resentment – and tries to pit us against each other in a group to divide us and destroy the peace and unity that we have.
Taking out the weeds early on may not serve the purpose of God. That is why He allows the weeds to stay on till harvest time. Pulling them out early on will prevent us from the opportunity to bloom where we are placed, to be refined and readied for harvest.
There was this very intelligent teenager who was the absolute headache of his mother. He moved in with a girl while still in his teens and got her pregnant. After 15 years, he dumps her and moves in with another woman. He was very ambitious. He got engaged with her just to advance himself in his career. But after two years, he had a third woman. He left the church his mother had him baptized in and joined a cult. Confused and bored, he eventually left the cult and became a skeptic.
Was he a wheat or a weed? He was a deadly weed. He looks hopeless. He is St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the most important theologians of the Catholic church.
For us who are weeds or know of people who are weeds, we must not despair. God’s grace is just waiting to be asked. In St. Augustine’s case, the incessant prayers of his mother saved him from eternal damnation and turned him into a golden wheat.
Three points we have learned today:
1. We can be weeds if we allow the devil to sow his seeds in us
2. No one is a permanent weed if one let’s God’s grace weed out the sinful tendencies
3. God allows weeds to grow around us to test our resolve to be holy