The Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

I think we’d all admit this has been a bit of a rough week.  We have heard of escalating tensions in the middle east, and very dangerous issues in the Russia/Ukraine situation.  Then a plane was shot down over the Ukraine, killing almost 300 people.  This week, we also heard of the death of Father John Barrett, a former pastor of this parish, and I’ve anointed a few parishioners who had difficult surgery planned.  Lots of challenges for one week, challenges for our faith and prayer life.  And so it is good for us to come here today and hear today’s scriptures speak to that rough week.

The wisdom writer in the first reading praises God who has the care of all, and who permits repentance for sins.  The Psalmist extols God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in kindness and fidelity.  Saint Paul tells the Romans, and us, that the Holy Spirit comes to our aid in our weakness, helping us to pray the right way, even praying in our stead when we cannot.  We need all that consolation on a week such as this.

And we have the Gospel, which continues the theme of planting seeds as we had last week.  Here we hear of the wisdom of God who allows the weeds to grow among the wheat and is wise enough to sort it all out at the harvest time.  This Gospel talks all about the Kingdom of God and what it will be like.  It will be like a tiny mustard seed that grows up to become a huge shrub.  It will be like a measure of yeast mixed with flour to become a loaf of bread.

Here are a couple of things I want us to take from this Gospel.  First, the Kingdom of God is now.  Jesus made it real, showing us that the kingdom is present in ordinary ways: a mustard seed, a measure of yeast.  He wants us to see that we don’t have to wait for a far-off distant Kingdom, but instead to live in the Kingdom now, where he is our King.

Second, the mustard seed, the yeast – that’s us.  We are the ones to make the Kingdom happen.  Jesus needs us to go out and proclaim the message, to witness to the presence of the Kingdom, to make people want to be part of it.  Our prayer, our love, our joy, all of that make it possible for people to come to know Christ.  The Kingdom of God is our true home; the rest of the world is just a travelling place.  When we live in the Kingdom here and now, we will be ready for the great coming of the Kingdom in heaven, where all will be made right and we will live forever with our God.

On a week like this, we need that good news, we need that Kingdom.  And Jesus needs all of us to be leaven in the world, changing sadness into hope, directing all eyes to the One who is our true King.

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