The Word in other Words

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T H E  W O R D
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - A
July 20, 2014

Wis 12: 13. 16-19

   For neither is there any god besides you who have the care of all,/ that you need show you have not unjustly condemned;/ For your might is the source of righteousness;/ your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.

   For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved;/ and in those who know you, you rebuke insolence.

   But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency,/ and with much lenience you govern us;/ for power, whenever you will, attends you.

   You taught your people, by these deeds,/ that those who are righteous must be kind;/ And you gave your children reason to hope/ that you would allow them to repent for their sins.

Rom 8: 26-27

   Brothers and sisters: In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

Mt 13: 24-43

   Jesus proposed another parable to them. “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.”


   In an ordinary workday, Jesus goes about preaching by words and deeds. On this particular day, he is preaching by words using parables. A parable serves the purpose of a story when teaching children; the latter need multimedia, especially audio-visual aids, when learning lessons which are otherwise abstract to them. Jesus is teaching about the Kingdom of God which, though nothing abstract, is not easily understood if only because it is beyond the pale of empirical evidence. How can one teach a thing like that? Indeed, can it be taught at all?

   Parables are used by Jesus to make us understand the Kingdom of God through a concrete literary medium, and yet the medium itself tends to hide its meaning. Hardly any element of a parable can be taken literally, so that it makes no sense to say that the Kingdom of God is a man who sows seed, or a mustard seed, or yeast. Neither man nor seed nor yeast is a kingdom, much less God’s Kingdom. The more one thinks about it, the more the meaning eludes one.

   In a way, that’s the spirit one should have when considering a parable. Whoever claims to understand it, might have actually missed it. The meaning of a parable is thus more than anything that can be understood by our intellect or reason alone; there’s something about it that transcends the understanding, and knowing that is part of the understanding itself. 
   What about the man, the sower, who is likened to the Kingdom of God? He sows good seed. If, in the course of time, there grow also the evil weeds, then one should be able to discriminate the good from the evil ones. Nothing of the evil ones could have come from the good sower. How about the mustard seed? As the smallest of all seeds, it is humble and unassuming, but as Christ always says, “He who is lowly will be exalted, and he who is exalted will be brought low.” In due time, it will not be difficult to recognize what comes from the mustard seed because it shall grow to be the greatest shady plant of all in which branches the birds of the sky would like to dwell. And the yeast? It makes the bread swell to such size that no one can miss it.

   There is something very positive about the Kingdom of God. In all likelihood it is better to belong to it rather than to be counted among the bundled weeds thrown into the fiery furnace, “where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” It’s really our choice where we want to go. “Whoever has ears ought to hear.” I suppose membership is not for free; there are qualifications to meet before one gets accepted into either company.

– Bro. Romualdo Abulad, SVD (CTManila)


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