In today’s Gospel reflection, Father Ian VanHeusen presents a spiritual exercise based on the readings for Sunday’s Mass.
St. Ignatius of Loyola explains, “By the term “Spiritual Exercises” is meant every method of examination of conscience, of meditation, of contemplation, of vocal and mental prayer, and of other spiritual activities.
“For just as taking a walk, journeying on foot, and running are bodily exercises, so we call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.”
This week, we invite you to watch the video, then prayerfully read the Gospel for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, and finally go through Father VanHeusen’s spiritual exercise.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (13:24-43)
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “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?’
Are you impatient in seeing God’s justice in this life? Do you want all your problems to go away immediately?… Hear Jesus’s answer.
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.’”
Rest in the idea that God’s justice will be made manifest at the closing of this age. Be patient with yourself and with others in the knowledge that God will always win in the end. Allow yourself to bury all your fears in the loving embrace of Jesus Christ.
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.”
The Gospel of the Lord
1) Consider all the injustices and persecutions you see in this world. Imagine that many of the people who perpetrate these crimes and injustices may convert through your intercession. Imagine them thanking you in heaven for your prayers. Then imagine the obstinate and the proud and the punishments that await them. Pray that you may have the gentleness and humility to not be counted among them.
2) Reflect on the maxims of St. John of the Cross that Fr. Ian mentioned in the video. Try to express what it means to you. Does this lead to greater freedom? Greater faith, hope, and love? Greater patience and tenderness? If you want, pray with the rest of St. John of the Cross’s maxims. (Click here for Fr. Ian’s guided explanation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. John of the Cross)
From St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mt. Carmel
To come to the knowledge of all
desire the knowledge of nothing….
To come to the knowledge you have not
you must go by a way in which you know not.
If you would like to print out these questions, we have prepared a downloadable handout version of this Spiritual Exercise. Click the download button bellow.