The Bishops Homily – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

16th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Cycle A | 16 July 2017
Wis. 12: 13-19
Rom. 8: 26-27
Mt. 13: 24-43

INTRODUCTION: Our Gospel for this Sunday is taken from Matthew 13 and it features three marvelous Parables. How rich these Parables are; how inexhaustible in meaning! If Jesus were to speak as a theologian, his words would be straightforward. Poems and hymns have layers of meaning as the Parables of Jesus show.

(1) The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds: “A man sowed good seed in his field. In the middle of the night, his enemy sowed weeds along the wheat! When the crop began to grow and yield grains, the weeds also grew! Sir, do you want us to pull up the weeds for you? No, lest you uproot the wheat along with the weeds.” (v. 24-30)

  • Principle: Some good simply would not exist unless paired with certain types of evil, even with some wickedness. On earth, this is simply the case though not in heaven!
  • Examples: A child on his first day in school; a teen-ager on his first day in College/Seminary/Convent; a fresh graduate on his first day of work — would feel anxiety and fear in trauma to leave their comfort zones. Yes, but deeper maturity, experience, and joy would simply not have been possible without those pains as “blessings in disguise.” A man who struggles with a chronic disease grows in patience, courage, empathy, and depth of soul. Would he have grown in virtue, if he did not suffer from that illness? Would the shining virtues of a Maximilian Kolbe, Edith Stein, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer have emerged without the wickedness of Hitler and the Nazi. “Without the cruelty of the tyrant, we would not have the courage of the martyrs.” St. Thomas Aquinas.
  • Lesson: Like it or not, joy and suffering co-exists on this earth. Tearing up suffering might not be wise, for we would eliminate reaching up to positive experience and moral excellence!

(2) Parable of the Mustard Seed: “It is the smallest of all seeds; yet, when full grown, it is the largest of all plants. . .the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.” (v. 32)

  • Principle: Mighty things in God’s Providence come from small beginnings.
  • Examples: The big Franciscan family began from a vision of Francis of Assisi when he heard a voice: “Francis, rebuild my Church.” The great Benedictine Order started from St. Benedict’s leaving Rome out of frustration of the corruption and evils in the Church. He lived in a hut in a cave as a hermit which became the beginning of the Monastic Movement in the West. The famous Caritas Manila that helps during national disasters started as Catholic Charities founded by the first Filipino Cardinal Rufino Santos in 1951 to help the poor of Manila rise through the rubbles of World War II. The now known Missionaries of Charity began by Mother Teresa when that little nun collected a dying man in the slums of Calcutta.
  • Lesson: Great things start from humble beginnings. Don’t worry about doing great things! Worry about being faithful! Sow the seeds that have been given you! Let God worry about what will come out of it!

(3) Parable of the Yeast is like the previous one: “The Kingdom of God is like a yeast which a woman took and kneaded into three measures of flour until the whole batch was leavened.” (v. 33)

  • Principle: The “Kingdom” is God’s way of ordering things and in the Bible is often contrasted with the “World” which is man’s way of ordering things — what St. Augustine calls “Civitas Terrena.” God has a way of ordering things that is marked with gentleness, peace, and non-violence and this will give rise to a new way of ordering from the individual to the family, to the parish, to the whole community. How does one do this? By putting a little bit of yeast and in time it will come to affect the whole society.
  • Examples: St. John Paul II in Warsaw in 1979 when he visited Poland cleared a space where God is proclaimed, where human rights could be defended before a great Army of tanks and within a few years during his own lifetime saw the crumbling of that dysfunctional Empire of Communism.

CONCLUSION: Don’t worry about accomplishing great things but live right now in the smallest way in line with God and his Kingdom and let God in his Providence bring this to full fruition!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches