July 18, 2014

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 genre of writings. Collectively, the purpose is to convey in human language, and for human situations of life, the wisdom that can come only from God.

Always important as a backdrop in reading the Wisdom literature—or in reading any Scripture for that matter—is 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.

The bottom line therefore is that we need God. We simply cannot survive without divine wisdom. God offers this in the revealed Scriptures.

This weekend’s reading is a salute to 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. It proclaims the majesty and greatness of God.

Whereas we humans are severely limited, God is not limited. Marvelous for us, God fulfills us despite our limitations. We have nothing to want or to fear if we listen to God, the source of all wisdom.

Thus, this passage calls us to the reality of God.

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.

The stress here is on our weakness, on our limitations. Even our prayers are weak, handicapped by our sinfulness. However, God supplies. As disciples of Jesus, born again in the life of Jesus, we speak with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit praises God for us, petitions for us.

For the last reading, the Church presents a parable from St. Matthew’s Gospel. It is the familiar story of the sower who planted good seed in his field. These references to agriculture were very useful in addressing audiences whose livelihood almost exclusively was in farming or herding.

At night, an enemy comes and sows the seeds of weeds. In time, both grain and weeds come forth. God will separate the good from the bad. There will be a difference.

Another parable follows. It is the story of the very tiny mustard seed. But as 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 about the good seed and the weeds. The Apostles were the Lord’s special students, individually chosen for a special future task.


The Wisdom Literature was composed in an era when fidelity to God had a demand beyond that of the usual. The culture surrounding the devout was quite hostile to the one, true God of the Jews. Indeed, many of the elect fell away from God. The popular wisdom of the culture seemed so obvious, so clear and so compelling.

Wisdom writings insist, however, that this culture is unfulfilling. God alone is sure.

Today our own culture calls us astray. We, too, are challenged. The Church teaches us to help us in responding.

God loves us, as the first and second readings insist. God supplies what we need. He gives us divine wisdom for our walk through the darkness and shadows of life. He redeems us in Jesus.

Nevertheless, weeds grow in the gardens of our souls. We must be aware of them. We must attempt to uproot them. It is the story of avoiding temptation.

Reassuring us is Paul. God marvelously provides. Only God is sure and true. We must strengthen ourselves with God’s grace so that we personally can grow as Christians into a mighty tree of righteousness, able to withstand the rigors of our times, able to endure forever. †

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