July 15, 2011

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Wisdom provides this weekend’s first reading.

Wisdom is the name not only of this book of the Old Testament, but of an entire set of writings. Collectively, the purpose is to convey in human language, and for human situations of life, the wisdom that can only come from God.

Always important as the backdrop in reading the Wisdom literature—or in reading any Scripture, for that matter—is the admission that humans necessarily are limited. We cannot understand everything. We cannot see everything. Even what we see at times, and perhaps more often than not, is distorted and colored.

We need God. We simply cannot survive without divine Wisdom. God offers this in the revealed Scriptures.

This weekend’s reading salutes God, the almighty, the perfect, and the perfectly just and all-knowing. The reading is highly poetic and lyrical, almost as if it were a hymn.

Marvelous for us, this supreme, perfect God fulfills us despite our limitations. We have nothing to want or to fear if we listen to God, the source of all wisdom.

St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is the source of a very brief reading, the second lesson for this weekend’s Liturgy of the Word.

Stressed here are our weakness and our limitations. Even our prayers are weak, handicapped by our sinfulness and selfishness all too often. However, God supplies what we need. As disciples of Jesus, born again in the life of Jesus, we speak with the life and strength of the Holy Spirit.

For the last reading, the Church presents a parable from St. Matthew’s Gospel using agricultural imagery.

At the time of Jesus, the planting and growing of crops or the keeping of herds were the most popular livelihoods. This familiar story of the sower who planted good seed in his field would have been understood by all who heard the Lord speak.

Jesus says that the story resembles the kingdom of God. Each component—the landowner, the slave, the enemy, and so on—fit into the overall picture.

To recall the story, at night an enemy comes and sows the seeds of weeds in the landowner’s field, tended by the slaves. In time, both grain and weeds come forth.

One is good, the other bad. God will separate the good from the bad. He will decide.

Another parable follows. It is the story of a mustard seed, a tiny piece of matter. Although only a seed, it has the potential of life and growth. In time, it becomes a great tree.

Finally, Jesus gives the Apostles a special and much more detailed lesson. He explains the parable.

Reflection

The first step in learning about Christianity is to accept the Church’s doctrine of Original Sin, and its effects upon all people. God created everyone and vested in each person what the theologians call “free will.”

Some people use this will to be loyal to God, while others choose disloyalty. The devil tempts us to sin.

So, in God’s creation, people are divided between saints and sinners, and between nourishing plants or weeds. The devil sows seeds of the weeds.

In the end, God will right all wrongs. Justice will prevail. In the meantime, it is required of us to realize that faith is a seed within us, planted by God. However, we must nourish it and protect it.

We have free will. We can choose to be faithful to God or not. We can allow, and assist, the spiritual seed within us to grow to maturity, which is personal sanctity and final reward with God in heaven. Or we can reject God.

God’s kingdom is created in victory, but it is not foisted upon us as if an invader has overtaken us. We must choose God as we endure life among the weeds. †

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