Daily Reflection
July 21st, 2002
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
Romans 8:26-27
Matthew 13:24-43 or 13:24-30

When we (in our disrespectful youth, would ask questions, but were not interested in the answers) were told that everything was possible with God, we had questions.  “Could God make a square circle?”  “Could God make something so heavy that He couldn’t lift it?”  In our atheistic stage, we were hoping to prove that God was not infinite for starters and we’d work on the other aspects later.

The First Reading for today’s liturgy poses the tension between God’s being “just” and being “lenient.”  The Book of Wisdom is a long survey of the complexity of God’s personality.  We hear today that God cares for all things.  God’s might is the source of justice and God’s mastery is the source of leniency towards all. 

So we reformulate the question; can we do something so terrible that not even God can lift it?  There is comfort in the answer which completes this reading.  In the survey of God’s personal dealings with Israel there are grave misdeeds and disbelief, but God has taken them back, lifting their burden of guilt.  Is God just when God is lenient? 

Our minds, values and human experiences make us complex so that we find the answer to this question impossible to lift ourselves.  We either forgive or not; we hold fast to strict justice and leniency or mercy is usually a result of some deep reasoning or more evidence, or putting ourselves in the place of the other.  The Scales of Justice need balancing; the ways of God need believing.

Today’s Gospel offers us three more parables, but again we have the assistance of Jesus’ personal interpretation of one of them. 

Another sower, presumably, had his servants sow good seed in his field.  An enemy came and scattered some weeds among the wheat seeds.  In time the servants noticed this and reported it to the their master.  When asked whether or not they should pull it all out and start over, he said rather that they should grow together and in time there would be the great separation. 

Now we are getting to our own personalities and complexities.  We are of the original good creational seed, but an enemy has disoriented our hearts; what should we do with our so-heavy contradictions?  Jesus does not give an easy answer here, but rather from the totality of His life consummated on the Cross. 

If we wish to work out in our minds the mystery of God’s Justice and Mercy; if we want to argue our own case as prosecutor, the only legitimate court is the foot of that same Cross and bring your Kleenex.

The other two parables continue filling out Jesus’ explanation of His ways, His attitudes, His Kingdom of Heaven.  A Mustard seed and a little yeast are small, but powerful in time.  The same question circles back around us.  Can God make something so great through the means of something so little?  Can a tiny seed actually grow into a large tree?  Can a little yeast influence the flour so as to rise and nourish?  Can God make a world so large that just one person can effect it all?  Can a Hitler or a terrorist sow seeds of evil?  Can little saints, such as we are, flourish, welcome and nourish as part of the Kingdom?

These latter-two parables fit the ways of God’s personality and God’s dealings with us humans.  When surveying God’s history, there is a theme of the selection of the smallest, insignificant, discarded, used to confound the large, powerful, important.  The listeners to the words of Jesus and those reading Matthew’s parables here would take comfort when considering what is being asked of them in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.  If choices do reveal personality, then through these parables we take courage, comfort, and energy from knowing something a little more about the mystery of God. 

The challenge for us who are hearing these readings today is whether or not we can allow our weeds and wheat to grow together peacefully, and whether or not we are small enough to become magnified by the Lord. 

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