Gospel Cycle Cycle A Matthew 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. ((Later) his servants 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.”
A Wheaties or a Weed-eze Life of Faith?
- A few years ago with this Sunday gospel I filmed a little video on it, as I took a Wheaties cereal box and a second brand X Wheat flakes cereal box for my props. The Wheaties box I left as it is—Wheaties, the breakfast of champions, except that I added on to the box top the words “Have a Jesus-fortified life!” with a little picture of Jesus the Bread of Life on the side, and on the bottom of the box I added: A weed free start to your morning—‘just great Wheaties flakes.
- Now, on the Brand X wheat flake box, I emptied half the contents out and put inside the available space a bunch of weeds. I sealed the bag up, now with weeds mixed in with the not so tasty brand x flakes. On the box I added “the worldly choice– for a breakfast for lapsed, cut corners, could-care-less eaters.
- I used the two boxes to show the difference of the kingdom of heaven meal to the worldly meal. One feeds you to heaven; the other to a judgment to the other place.
- You pick what you want to nourish your soul.
We get a parable of the wheat and the weeds today that is meant to just get us thinking about our faith, with our heart and soul involved in the matter.
What do we make of the two side by side choices of life? The Finest of Wheat Jesus or the mixed with the weeds of the world half-faith.
Why is there ever a choice of the two? It’s due to Free will. God could have never let this planet and ourselves have an enemy sneak in and cause these weeds of havoc, suffering and trouble among us. We could have had an unspoiled existence right now. But because of God’s experiment with free will for His creatures of angels and humanity—we have a situation of the wheat and weeds in the Fields of The Lord. The lesson of Jesus is that God allowed it and God will sort things out in the end, the wheat from weeds, the good from the evil, the loving from the hating folk, the right and the wrong. Etcetera.
- The harvesters God will use are angels and they will be instructed to collect the weeds for burning, i.e. Hades, and the wheat for bringing in to the barn, that is, into Heaven.
- Which collection will people fall into? My moral theology instruction at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary said that very much will depend upon the believer’s lived-out “fundamental option.” Did they strongly choose God’s reign? Had they started really living the kingdom of God, as The Spirit dispensed this new life to the Body of Christ?
- Two names of philosophy and theology whom are associated with the fundamental option theory are Karl Rahner and Germaine Grisez. They say that the Christian life is meant to be lived out by the disciple of Jesus. Thus, while we start in baptism and follow-up in Confirmation, or make a faith turn or confession of living for the Lord—the Christian has more to live out that just being given sacraments of initiation or their making a step in salvation by Jesus. There is the Follow Me call by Our Lord. Taking the next steps.
- The enemy works for having us rest on our laurels—in a spirit of ourselves saying “I’m a believer—that does it.” Yet if we fall for that, the weeds can get sown in that lethargy, that tepidity, that relaxed attitude, that compromise. We heard so in last Sunday’s parable of Jesus in Matthew 13. His Word said how God needs us to be providing good ground of receiving Him more fully, of Him the Seed of New Life Growth, of Him the Word in us. Gardeners or farmers know what that means, it means tilling the earth, that is, the soul, and having the work discipline to hoe and rake and plow the garden, of one’s soul—or collectively, of one’s field, their family, their parish, their Church.
- In parish activity, we just had a two-night mission here with Laura Huval for some plowing together and rejoicing in Jesus The Living Word, and we have service activities offered for other-centered living, and we have had recent bible studies for some deeper pondering of what the Scriptures say for us to do. We suggest media ways to grow in Catholic faith, like from Dynamic Catholic (and the Matthew Kelly books) and Hallow and Formed or Barron’s Word on Fire.
- In your own activity, you have the things you know God is calling of you in the heart of His will. And when we respond so, to the core of our being and Catholic faith, this is the fundamental option at work. We identify with Christ, we live Christ, we share Christ.
- Fundamentally at that start of things with His own disciples in the Gospel story, Jesus said to then “deny thy self, take up thy cross, and follow after Me.” (Lk.9:23, Mt.16:24) The saving life of God in Christ then is a following, or following after Him. It implies a loving obedience acted forth, born by a faith-inflamed listening heart, and of a willingness of our will towards being turned over from self to God—in a plethora of areas and over a lifetime. This movement of following after Jesus is saying: I choose Him for first place in my heart, and I will keep coming back to square one of choosing Him further for first place in areas to still surrender or render service to God. This is the life in the Kingdom of God. Jesus inaugurated this Way of Salvation in saying: Repent, believe, for the kingdom of God is among you (to choose). Today, again, the kingdom of God is to be chosen. Receive the Word of God. Not just the world. Repent if you’ve chosen the world and self and sin and pride. Get to square one.
- Most of us want to follow God. Most of us come to Church because we believe in Christ and accept His Gospel. On the other hand, it is not easy for us to want to give up totally everything that stands in the way of a strong and vibrant relationship with God. A Catholic woman had to come to terms with her fundamental option in life—is it to serve God or mighty me? She was tempted to advance in her career in a greedy situation in where an innocent person would greatly suffer, lose their job, and have it open up for the woman to take. A false accusation could be made by her, or by someone she planted—thus to trip up her boss into a major mess-up, yet all orchestrated from below them, unknowingly. If she pulled these strings, then likely no one would be wise to her devious manipulation, and her boss would lose the job over her, which she coveted, just on the grounds of an accusation. Things were that politically-correct sensitive at work for things to fall that way, and it would cost that boss their job, and that boss and their family and dependents would have a wrenching time ahead. Yet she would prosper.
- But the woman rightly saw this as a temptation, and rebuked that spirit, that choking weed to her own Catholic soul. She called out her covetousness, and confessed it, of how too close was she to fundamentally turn away badly from her Christian life.
- Jesus said “Follow Me.” He says to our souls: ‘Live out the fundamental belief that I am Lord of Your Life, and I am leading you and others home to the Father. ’
This engaged couple hiked a new state park recently. They said that they put in about 8 miles, which is a lot for them. They don’t always walk side by side on the hike. For instance, one likes to take photos of nature with their phone, and lag behind for the shot. But the other would keep going on, though a bit slower. But their shared rule is to be always in sight of one another or in ear-shot of a shout. They like to have a little private space in points on their walk, but at times it means that whoever is in the lead does have to look back over their shoulder every so often to make sure their partner was still in view and following after them. Or in shouting distance. In sharing of that experience to me, I wondered if that is how Jesus looks at us? Does He look over His shoulder to see if we are still following? Have we veered off the path? Have we fallen far behind, slowed by exhaustion or by a hurt or a distraction? Or on the other hand, have we gone too far ahead of Jesus, Who asked us to rest awhile, but we did not, but kept on uncooperatively? It is just something to think of with the heart.
He has asked us to join with Him in a walk to Glory. Let us respect that. Let us follow Jesus. His intention is to bring us into Heaven, as the parable speaks of His harvest plans to lead souls to the Father. Let us hear Him speak on the journey, and let us sup with Him in Eucharist on this pilgrimage of life.
Cutting Room floor
- The Gospel reflects a reality that we live every day. For whom do we live? With Whom are we going and to where? What’s the fundamental plan of our life?
- We do find ourselves with a lot of good within us, but also some weedy parts of our lives. The Gospel even sounds like we should not get too concerned about the weeds! Rather, we should cultivate the good seed, that which is really good within us. This seems to be a fairly consistent teaching in our spiritual tradition.
- We must be careful not to think that we should pay no attention to evil at all, because that is not what the Gospel is telling us. Rather, we need to make sure that our daily attention is on doing good. One of the Psalms tells us: Turn away from evil and do good.
- Following Christ is not just about avoiding evil. It is much more about learning how to love the good and to do the good and to rejoice in doing good. Following Christ is about wanting to know Christ personally and corporately and to rejoice in this relationship and to live from this relationship.
- Perhaps we should think of the second reading! It is the Spirit of Jesus that will intercede for us and show us the way. It is the Spirit that will come to the aid of our weakness, showing us how to pray and how to live with joy and delight in the Lord.
- This Sunday we can renew our desire to turn away from all that may be weedy or shallow or too worldly about us, and center ourselves in a Word of God lifestyle.
Here are other themes in this Parable Lesson of Matthew 13 today….
- Coexistence of Good and Evil: In the 16th Sunday A Gospel Jesus presents the reality that in this world, both the children of the kingdom (believers) and the children of the evil one (unbelievers) will coexist until the final judgment, highlighting the presence of evil and the challenges faced by believers in a fallen world.
- Spiritual Warfare: The parable depicts the ongoing spiritual battle between good and evil, illustrating the strategies of the enemy to sow deception and hinder the growth of God’s kingdom. Perhaps the life is three-fold, as borrowing from a Clint Eastwood film how there’s “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.” There are those humbly trying to live in God’s grace in Christ Jesus, then there are those who are selfish and impatient and in some bad stuff—caught in sins, and we deal with them…. then there are the evil folks that do so much harm in our world. After watching the new Jim Cavaziel film “The Voices of Freedom” it is most evident how cruel and evil and prevalent human sex trafficking of children is in our country and in the world. It’s ugly, horrible sin—of people really at war with God over the little ones of the world.
- Patience and Delayed Judgment: The parable emphasizes God’s patience and long-suffering, as He allows both the wheat and the tares to grow together until the harvest, symbolizing the delay of final judgment and the opportunity for repentance.
- God’s Sovereignty: The parable portrays God’s ultimate sovereignty and authority over the final judgment, when the wheat (righteous) will be gathered into His kingdom, and the tares (wicked) will be cast into eternal punishment.
- Growth and Fruitfulness: The parable highlights the importance of spiritual growth and fruitfulness in the lives of believers, as represented by the wheat, emphasizing the need for genuine faith and righteous living.
- The Kingdom’s Expansion: In this gospel Jesus teaches that the kingdom of God will expand and grow, starting small but eventually encompassing many people, cultures, and nations, reflecting God’s plan for the expansion of His kingdom. There will finish with a long-expected Day of the Lord, when God will execute His vengeance and judgment. We hope we may gain more souls into the Church before that hour comes.
The Word has the Last Word.
Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.
Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. *Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy,* drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
If you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.
Weeds ▲ Wheat ▼
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.t
Romans 6 What then shall we say? Shall we persist in sin that grace may abound? Of course not!a 2How can we who died to sin yet live in it?b 3Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?c 4We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.d BE A RISEN LIFE PERSON
5For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.e 6We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.f 7For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
8If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.g
9We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.h