16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (23 July 2017)

Wisdom 12:13,16-19; Rom 8:26-27; Matt 13:24-43

This week, we are given an insight into some of the wondrous traits of God. He is our almighty Judge. Before Him, we have no defence to offer, for He sees all and it is condemnation we deserve. But, He is kindness and mercy; and so He forgives us.
The first reading is a beautiful and insightful passage about the majesty of God, the Almighty. There is no other like Him – a judge who has never judged unjustly. And His justice is rooted in His awesome strength. Because He is supreme and sovereign over everything, He is lenient. If He showed His power, we would be destroyed. And because He loves us so very much, He is mild in His judgment; forgiving and merciful except to those who insolently reject Him. Such power is majestic but its might is seen not in its exercise but in its being withheld. Those of us who assert discipleship are called to act in the same way: to be virtuous in our kindness to others and to repent our sins. When we do this, we will be rewarded with God’s greatest gift – the forgiveness of our sins, something we do not deserve but which He gives out of love.
How can we possibly relate to such a perfect God? We who are sinful and unkind are called to be virtuous and generous and to yield to our enemy. Surely this is a gulf too wide! But Paul in the second reading reminds us that the Supreme Perfect God bridges even this gulf through the gift of His Holy Spirit. The root of this relationship is communication in prayer. And when we are at a loss for the words with which to pray properly, the Holy Spirit prays for us and expresses our prayers in a way we could not possibly do. God who knows every single thing also knows and understands our needs and He hears us even when we cannot express ourselves worthily.
The Gospel connects these two readings. Jesus communicates with His disciples in parables and they don’t always understand Him. So He explains His message to them. God makes His teachings known to us through the Holy Spirit in the same way that the Holy Spirit makes our needs and prayers known to God. And through these parables, Jesus gives us an insight into God’s character. The parable of the darnel and the wheat shows that God is patient but there will come a day of judgment when those who have chosen not to be in a relationship with Him will be eternally separated from Him. This is a consequence of man’s choice and God respects the freedom of His creatures to choose how they will respond to him. The parable of the mustard seed shows what is possible if we open ourselves to His faith. By His empowerment though we are tiny and insignificant, God can work great things in us.
In truth we cannot fathom the greatness of God. But this Almighty and Awesome God calls us to be in a relationship with Him. Despite our imperfections and our sinfulness, He is merciful and kind. He forgives us. To overcome our inability to communicate with Him, He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit who ensures that our needs can be expressed to Him and that His will can be conveyed to us. We are anointed as His children and this is our unimaginable privilege. This must provoke us to allow ourselves to be transformed so that we can reflect His presence in our lives.
Some points for reflection as you read the passages:

  1. What is it about God’s gentleness that reflects his glory and majesty to you? How has God’s healing grace and gentleness been manifested in your life
  2. Have you ever encountered difficulties in prayer? How was this overcome? Have you discerned the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing you back to prayer
  3. In what ways do parables help convey the many levels of meaning in God’s teachings? What do you think Jesus is teaching us in the parable of the yeast?