July 27, 2020
by Scott McClure
Formerly with Creighton University's Magis Teacher Corps
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 401

Jeremiah 13:1-11
Deuteronomy 32:18-19, 20, 21
Matthew 13:31-35

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Gather Us In: Thoughts on the Synod

Conventional wisdom reaching from ancient times to today has consistently professed the responsibility each person has over his or her own destiny. To make one's own bed and lie in it is an idiom that comes to mind. An ancient phrase of a similar sentiment comes from Babrius of ancient Greece: Pray to the gods when you are doing something or you'll pray in vain. In biblical terms, each of these wisdom sayings speaks to our belief in free will as human beings and the importance of how we use it.

Today's readings propose an important question for each of us to consider: Am I using my free will to bring about the Kingdom of heaven? 

To break this question into its two component parts, let's consider first how today's first reading addresses the use of free will. The first reading today tells with vivid imagery the misfortune brought about by the pride of Jerusalem; their misuse of their God-given free will. This misuse results in a departure from God's plan. God desires union with his people and they reject it. They have made their bed.

Considering the second part of the question, what does this have to do with the bringing about of the Kingdom of heaven? Isn't that a tall order for one person? Not to mention the fact that these wisdom sayings - along with the parable of the rotting loincloth in Jeremiah - are highly individualistic. A careful reading of the Gospel of Matthew, however, shows the integral role we play in bringing about the Kingdom of heaven. In the first parable of the mustard seed, the mustard seed may only grow into the largest of plants once it is sown by the person. In the second parable, the bread may only become leavened once the person mixes the yeast with the wheat flour. As parables of the Kingdom of heaven, the message is clear. We, ourselves, must work to bring it about. 

As God's children - both worldwide and in our local communities - we have the opportunity every day to use our free will to be Christ to one another, or to not. With our gaze fixed ultimately on communion with God in heaven, we have the opportunity every day to build God's Kingdom in our very own communities, or to not. In our work to bring about the Kingdom of heaven, let us begin in our own communities, with those we encounter. Perhaps, then, we may realize a glimpse of the blooming and the leavening of the Kingdom of heaven and devote ourselves all the more to its arrival. 

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