A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday Liturgy
BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (# 34)
16h Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – July 17, 2005
“Let Them Grow Together Until Harvest”
Wis 12:13, 16-19 // Rom 8:26-27 // Mt 13:24-43
I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS
This Sunday’s Gospel reading (Mt 13:24-43) contains three parables of the Kingdom: the parable of the weeds among the wheat (v. 24-30), the parable of the mustard seed (v. 31-32), and the parable of the leaven (v. 33). In using these parables, Jesus continues to reveal God’s ineffable ways and the astounding quality of the Kingdom of heaven, thus fulfilling the words of the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables. I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world” (Mt 13:35, cf. Ps 78:2).
The parable of the weeds among the wheat is an agricultural imagery used by Jesus to explain the lack of universal acceptance of his preaching and to suggest to his disciples the proper attitude concerning the people’s mixed reception to his saving ministry. Jesus’ parable also sheds light on the mystery of good and evil in the world and in the Church of all times. Moreover, it gives an insight into the perplexing human question that is born from despair and frustration: “Has Christianity failed?”
The biblical scholar, Eugene Maly comments: “When we realize that it was almost two thousand years ago that Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection, redeemed the world, we might wonder what the redemption meant. War, crime, poverty, disease, and disasters continue to plague the human race. Where is the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached? Many responses have been offered. Perhaps the most quoted is that of G.K Chesterton, who said that Christianity has not failed; it just has never been tried. He meant that if enough people lived the Gospel message in its fullness, the difference would be for all to see … Still others say that no matter how powerful, how revolutionary, how radical the message of Christianity is, it will never force the human heart. God wants freedom above all, and that means freedom even to reject his greatest offer of freedom, the freedom of the children of God. If everyone were forced by God’s grace to be another Mother Teresa of Calcutta, there would soon be no one to whom a free and authentic Mother Teresa could minister. The Gospel reading also tells us something about the question … The Kingdom works in a mysterious way, in a way that the human mind cannot comprehend.”
The mysterious character of the Kingdom and the benevolent quality of God can be gleaned from the answer of the Sower to his slaves who were scandalized that there were weeds in the midst of the growing wheat: “Let them grow together until harvest” (Mt 13:30). The Sower’s reply advocated patience and tolerance until the day of the harvest. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, explain: “God does not hurry to sort the weeds from the wheat; he will do that at harvest time. Until then, it is the time of growth and hope … God’s patience and delay taught by this parable arise from his perspicacity, from his mercy that never loses hope, and finally from the fact that, until the harvest, he gives to each the grace that can work miracles.” God judges with indulgence and governs with restraint. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, continue: “God is almighty and acts justly. Indeed, he can act with justice precisely because he is strong; he can show patience, indulgence, and moderation precisely because he has dominion over everything … The patience of God, holy and strong, imbues the believers with beautiful hope.”
The parable of the weeds among the wheat exhibits a more interesting nuance seen in the light of the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven, which depict the dynamic energy of the Kingdom and point to its grandiose fulfillment. Daniel Harrington underlines the Christ-centered aspect of the Reign of God: “The activity of God in the ministry of Jesus seems as a small mustard seed or as a little yeast, but its result in the fullness of God’s rule will be very great. These comparisons suggest that in Jesus’ preaching, the Kingdom already has a present dimension and that the process moving toward its fullness has in some way been inaugurated.”
This Sunday’s Gospel reading ends with an intense eschatological perspective. To the disciples’ request for an explanation of the parable of the weeds among the wheat, Jesus obliged by first enumerating a catalogue of equivalences that serves to decode the parable. After this, Jesus shifted the focus from patient tolerance in the present situation of good and evil to the spectacular event of the eschatological harvest: “The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are the angels. Just as the 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 away into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the father” (Mt 13:39-43). Indeed, the Kingdom of God that had been sown and had worked as a good leaven to bring about the people’s transformation has an eschatological, imminent character, which cannot be ignored. The compassionate God who tolerates the presence of the weeds in his field will sift the evil ones from the good in the day of the final reaping and eternal judgment.
The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, conclude: “We have our share of responsibility in what comes to pass … The Son of Man will judge these results some day and will call each one of us to account. In the meantime, our patient God refrains from intervening in an untimely manner and does not anticipate the time of judgment.”
by Leland Ronquillo
(Member: ASSOCIATION OF PAULINE COOPERATORS – Friends of the Divine Master, Antipolo Unit, Philippines)
Everyday, we are thrust into temptations. Sometimes, it is difficult to see evil because it can present itself in such complex or beautiful forms. There are too many stimuli around us today via television and the Internet that one gets drawn to the “attractive”, the “interesting” and the pleasurable. We have to distinguish the “weeds” among these. It is an everyday struggle to focus on the path of righteousness or to stay on the side of good. It can be a friend who invites you to take drugs. It can be a woman who flirts with your husband, or your husband who keeps a mistress. It can be the people who want to tear down a government for greed or the officials who cling to government posts to enrich themselves. It can be inside us when we choose to harm, or hurt, or steal, or cheat. Just as “weeds” are around us, so are they also within us, intertwined with our thoughts and influencing our behavior. We have to remain with the Lord and keep him in us to keep the “weeds” from choking the good plant.
I met a sixteen-year old boy in a hospital. He began to have kidney disease when he was four years old. He was in and out of hospitals so often that he never had a chance to go to school. He suffered from complications and was bed-ridden when he was twelve years old. He had infections and bedsores. And yet, in the hospital, this boy was calm and friendly. He exuded a warm, kind heart. He kept his faith strong despite his painful physical condition. The hospital staff was struck by this, including his calmness and humility, a strong contrast to the other sick people who griped and complained. He has an impact on people’s hearts. He is a mustard seed that grows to be a great, welcoming tree! People find solace in his branches!
II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART
A. What is our attitude to the presence of good and evil in this world? Do we imitate the patient and benevolent tolerance of God who graciously provides opportunities for healing and conversion to all?
B. Do we trust in the dynamism and efficacy of the Kingdom of God? Do we accept our humble beginning as a mustard seed and look forward to our grandiose destiny in the fullness of that Kingdom? How do we utilize the power of God given to us believers that we may be a leaven of transformation in today’s society?
C. How does the intense reality of the eschatological harvest and final judgment impinge upon our feelings, thoughts and actions in daily life? Are we ready to be reaped as God’s wheat and gathered into his barn?
III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD
(Cf. Commission Francophone Cistercienne, Tropaires des dimanches, 91)
Leader: Following the sower’s steps,
another came stealthily, at night, to scatter weeds.
Assembly: On the last day
the just will be resplendent in the light.
Leader: The day of the Lord will come;
do not judge before the time.
Do not despise God’s patience.
His kindness calls you to repentance.
Assembly: When God’s judgment is revealed,
he will render to all according to their works.
IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD
The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.
“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.’” (Mt 13:30)
V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION
A. ACTION PLAN: Pray for those who are overwhelmed by the existence of evil in this world and are crushed by their afflictions. Pray for the grace of comfort and conversion needed by those who are on death row. Continue to sow and nurture the good seed of the Gospel by your life of holiness, service and dedication.
B. ACTION PLAN: That we may appreciate more deeply the dynamic energy of the seed of God’s Kingdom and the benevolent patience of Jesus, the Sower of God’s Kingdom, and in view of a more meaningful Year of the Eucharist, make an effort to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration. Visit the PDDM WEB site (www.pddm.us) for the EUCHARISTIC ADORATION THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR (# 34): A Weekly Pastoral Tool for the Year of the Eucharist.
Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM
PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI
SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323