One of the best ways to enrich your experience at Sunday Mass is to pray the Mass Readings personally and to meditate on a Gospel reflection.
A great way of doing this is using the technique of Lectio Divina, a powerful method which we explain here. The following is the Sunday Gospel reading with a reflection that is especially aimed at youth.
This week, Fr. Piccolo reflects on Matthew 13:24-43.
We hope that it serves you in your personal prayer and that it serves as a resource that you can share with your apostolate.
Gospel of the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Mt. 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?’ 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.”
The Gospel of the Lord
“I am restless, but in You there is peace; in me there is bitterness, in You patience.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Lucy is one of the characters in Charlie Brown. She is a little girl that likes to play the psychologist from a lemonade stand. This becomes the place where Charlie Brown and his friends go to be heard, but only find useless and cliché responses. There is a little bit of Lucy in all of us, even those of us who are priests when, we pretend to give people quick solutions to their problems. When someone speaks to us, sometimes we aren’t even really listening; we are already thinking of the answer we will so generously give. At least Lucy is coherent enough to ask for 5 cents for her trouble.
Those who turn to us often need to be listened to, but even more so, to listen to themselves. They need to pull out the confused world they have inside so that they can see it better.
We are hasty even with ourselves. We don’t give ourselves time. We are always rushing to reach a conclusion.
We do so when we are confronting our inner world, but also when evaluating the contexts we live in. We often ask ourselves how it’s possible that we belong to the same Church, the same community, to the same party. One of the most worrying aspects of today’s culture is its polarization: every time someone expresses an opinion they are immediately labeled by the media and people take sides for or against. It seems impossible to express and opinion without being in favor or against someone. It is a sign of a violent culture that over-simplifies everything, destroying the possibility to think. Thinking and deciding require time.
The Gospel of Matthew speaks of this truth from the reality of the first Christians: a community full of contrasts and conflicts, where some thought of themselves as more just and better than the others and had difficulty living with those who were judged to be false and impious.
The parables that Jesus tells in this passage of Matthew’s Gospel seem to say that this is not God’s way of being. God acts with patience and meekness. He does not love hasty judgments and He does not attract attention. He acts invisibly. He loves to take His time. God is the exact opposite of our rushed and narcissistic culture.
We carry that complex world we live in within ourselves. The wheat and the weeds dwell within us. They are the contrasting affections, the dark impulses that moves us and that we have trouble identifying. If the weeds take over the fields of the world and the contexts of our daily lives, we cannot allow them to take over hearts. The enemy plants weeds in our hearts by night, when we feel weakest, when we don’t understand what is happening. Jesus says in his explanation that the weeds are everything in contrast with the words of the Gospel; God wants to push us towards happiness, and the weeds are everything that want to keep us away.
Like the servants of the parable, the first reaction is to distance oneself from the evil we find in ourselves. We look for someone to blame: Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? The blame is always laid on someone else. The servants don’t ask themselves if they have been vigilant enough.
The master invites us to be patient, because when the grain and the weeds sprout, they look very similar. In the same way, what sprouts up within us is not initially easy to identify. We have to wait and see what brings life and what takes it away. Only at that point will we be able to put things in order, distinguishing what helps us from what brings us harm.
Sometimes we are too hasty, it’s true, but other times we risk waiting too long. There is a moment when we can see a clear difference between the weeds and the wheat, and when we do we have the responsibility of intervening. This is the time of judgment.
We need to take our time, like the mustard seed needs time to become like a tree and the yeast to make the dough rise. We need honesty in order to recognize that the weeds also grow in our own hearts. We need courage to make decisions when things have become clear.
Questions for personal reflection:
1. Do you seek the easy way out or do you know how to take your time?
2. What do the wheat and the weeds represent in your heart today?