HOMILY FOR THE 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
THEME: FIAT VOLUNTAS TUA!
BY: Father Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
In today’s gospel (Matthew 13:24–43), Jesus uses more familiar stories—a weed sown among the wheat, a mustard seed, and a woman baking bread—to shed light on something less familiar—the Kingdom of Heaven, or rather, the will of God. After all, parables rely on what we know to speak to us about what we know little or nothing about.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of “the Kingdom of Heaven,” whereas in Mark, Luke, and John’s Gospels, he speaks of “the Kingdom of God.” All the evangelists are referring to the same reality. However, Matthew, who was writing primarily for Jews, uses the word “heaven” out of reverence for the holy name of God. As a result, the phrases “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Kingdom of God” are synonymous.
“The Kingdom of Heaven” or “the Kingdom of God” is certainly not a location that can be found using Google, Apple Maps, or similar applications. However, understanding how the literary device “parallelism” is used in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, helps to clarify the meaning of the kingdom of heaven.
Parallelism in writing is described as mentioning something in one line and repeating or elaborating on it in the following line (Psalms 19:1–2, 24:3–4, 73:26). For example, in the Lord’s Prayer, also known as Our Father, in one line, we pray, “Your Kingdom come,” and in the line that follows it, we pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Parallelism helps us understand that the kingdom of heaven is God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Thus, the three parables in our gospel reading today are meant to show us what God wants from us.
The kingdom of heaven demands patience; there is a time of waiting for the will of God to be done. The farmer must wait until harvest to separate the wheat from the weeds. He must wait for the mustard seed to grow; it does not become the largest shrub overnight. And the woman baking bread must wait until the yeast causes the bread to rise.
A man sowed good seed in his field, but during the night, an enemy came and sowed weeds all among the wheat. The work of the enemy in the field offers an answer to the perennial questions of why there is evil in the world and whether it is the will of God that there is evil in the world.
Of course, there is no evil in God, and it is not his will that there be evil in the world. But the evil, wickedness, and injustice we see around us are the products of people abusing their freedom. Also, God is patient; he does not rush down to destroy his creation for every sin and evil he sees.
It’s not long before the farmer’s servant discovers the weed growing among the wheat. They asked, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?” (Matthew 13:28). The weed (often identified as darnel) is often so intertwined with the wheat that pulling it out would also mean uprooting the wheat. So, the master replies, “No, if you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest” (Matthew 13:30).
The Church, for example, is made up of both the saints and the sinners, or “the wheat” and “the weeds.” But we are often tempted to think that the Church is or should be exclusively for “the wheat,” or those who do not struggle with the Church’s doctrines. And every “weed,” every mistake, or every person who disputes with one or two teachings and traditions of the Church is not welcome and should be excommunicated, if not silenced.
Someone once remarked, “If you ever find a perfect church, by all means, join it; just know that once you join it, it will no longer be perfect.” None of us is perfect! The kingdom of heaven takes root in imperfect communities of “wheat and weeds,” saints and sinners. And, as the master advises, “let them grow together until harvest” (Matthew 13:30).
The tiny size of the mustard seed contrasts with the largeness of the bush once it has fully grown. Here, Jesus cautions us against being overwhelmed with all that needs to be done to inaugurate the Kingdom of heaven. But the smallest contribution we make towards building the kingdom of heaven, like sincerely wishing someone well, makes a difference.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” In other words, think of the mustard seed! It begins small but grows so big that the birds of the sky, which symbolize the multitude of nations that will enter the kingdom of God, come and dwell in its branches.
Finally, Jesus likened the will of God to a woman baking bread. The yeast is “mixed in” (“enekrupsen” in Greek, meaning “encrypted” or “hidden in”) with the flour. It means that the will of God is at work in our midst, but it is often hidden and unseen.
The yeast, which is mixed into “three measures” of flour, is an image of surprising extravagance and abundance. And lastly, yeast is added to flour so that it will rise, which means that we are called to be yeast in our own society.
Dear friends, the kingdom of heaven, which is the will of God, is already being done, but it is often hidden from sight and from the smallest of beginnings, like the mustard seed. It is making a difference among us, like yeast in the process of baking bread. And there will be judgment, but not yet, and not by us.
Let us pray that the will of God may be done in our lives, Church, country, and communities as it is done in heaven, through Christ Our Lord, Amen! ¡Feliz Domingo!
Father Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA
Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
July 23, 2023
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