16th Sunday Ordinary Time Year A


Opening Prayer: Gracious God, we gather to pray that the leaven of your love would transform us in unimaginable ways. May our lives be instruments of hope, messengers of peace, and windows of inclusion for all who yearn to find a home in you. We lift this prayer to you, one God forever and ever. Amen!

Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:24-43
A reading from the Holy Gospel
according to Matthew.
Jesus presented another parable to
those gathered: “The kingdom of
heaven is like a farmer who sowed
good seed in a field. While everyone
was asleep, an enemy came
and sowed weeds among the wheat
and then made off.
When the crop began to mature and
yield grain, the weeds became
evident as well. “The farmer’s
workers came and asked, ‘Did you
not sow good seed in your field?
Where are the weeds coming from?’
“The farmer replied, ‘I see an
enemy’s hand in this.’ “They in turn
asked, ‘Do you want us to go out and
pull them up?’ ‘No,’ replied the
farmer, ‘if you pull up the weeds, you
might take the wheat along with
them. Let them grow together until
the harvest, then at harvest time I
will order the
harvesters to first collect the weeds
and bundle them up to burn, then to
gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”
Jesus presented another parable to
the crowds, “The kingdom of Heaven is
like the mustard seed that a farmer
sowed in a field. It is the smallest of
all the seeds, but when it has grown it
is the biggest shrub of all—it
becomes a tree so that the birds of
the air come to perch in its
branches.”
Jesus offered them still another
parable: “The kingdom of Heaven is
like the yeast, a baker took and mixed
in with three measures of flour until
it was leavened all through.”
Jesus spoke all these things to the
a crowd in parables. He spoke to them
in parables only, to fulfill what had
been said through the prophet: “I will
open my mouth in parables, I will
announce things hidden since the
creation of the world.”
Then Jesus left the crowd and went
into the house. The disciples also
came in and said, “Explain the
parable about the weeds in the
field.”Jesus answered, “The farmer
sowing the good seed is the Chosen
One, the field is the world, and the
good seed, the citizens of the
kingdom. The weeds are the followers
of the Evil One, and the enemy who
sowed them is the Devil. The harvest
is the end of the world, while the
harvesters are the angels. Just as
weeds are collected and burned, so it
will be at the end of the age.
The Chosen One will send the angels
who will weed out the kingdom of
everything that causes sin and all
who act lawlessly. The
angels will throw them into the fiery
furnace, where there will be weeping
and gnashing of teeth. But those who
are just will shine like the sun in the
kingdom of their God. Let those of you
who have ears to hear, hear this!”
The Gospel of the Lord!
R. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ!
The Gospel writer of Matthew has more parables than any other Gospel. Parables are a medium, through which readers and hearers are invited to draw their own conclusions rather than literary styles like commentaries or letters which offer direction to the reader or hearer.

And if we are to do justice to this Gospel pericope, we have to remember that the Gospel writer of Matthew, writing nearly 30 years after the death of Jesus and speaking to primarily a Jewish audience, wanted to make certain, that everyone knew, that there is no one who is excluded from the reign of God. Jew, Greek, Gentile, learned, or impoverished, there was nothing that placed one outside the embrace of God.

With that in mind let’s look at these three parables. Wheat and weeds, tiny mustard seeds, and yeast (leaven). And then layer on top of or maybe in the middle of all of that… our current lived reality… and then let’s see what bubbles to the surface.

As we look at this Gospel and we create the sandwich, if you will, there seems to me, to be something that keeps reappearing… and that I believe is something about smallness…tiny weed seeds that are
interspersed in wheat seeds, tiny mustard seeds that when tended to and cultivated become massive shrubs, and a little bit of yeast, which can turn a bowl of flour and water into a massive loaf of bread.

I believe one conclusion we could draw from this Gospel would be this:

Holiness begins in very small ways!
I don’t know about you, but I have always dreamed of having Pauline like experiences.
I have always wanted to be knocked off my horse, blinded by some stark reality or wowed by some amazing insight into life or Spirituality.
Yet the more I explore this Gospel and the more I work on my own spiritual journey, reading, writing, praying, talking, thinking, the more I am coming to the realization that the Spiritual life is not primarily a
Pauline experience at all.
It does occasionally happen for some.
Some get knocked off their horse or give speeches like MLK and his “I have a dream” or JFK and his “ask not what your country can do for you”, but for most of us, the Spiritual life is a journey of thousands of little steps….
A journey that is marked by moments of holiness and encounters of the Divine that look a lot like either saying or hearing the words, please and thank you.
Or someone allowing us to merge on a busy highway.
Or someone stopping when we are standing in a crosswalk and allowing us to cross the street.
Or someone holding the door open for us or saying excuse me.
I wonder how often in our lives we look for God in Pauline, knock out experiences when in reality, God is revealing the Divine in the simple gestures of holiness that surround us every day.
And that is, I believe one of our challenges, To become aware that God is constantly showing up in our smallness, rather than us constantly searching for God in the extreme.
I remember touring Rome, and my tour guide and friend Dennis said to Kathy and I… go ahead and look up like everyone else does when they come to this city… it is magnificent… but the treasures of this city are truly from your eyes down!
We ended up standing on marble on which Constantine was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and standing on the floor of the Chapel in which Galileo was condemned by the Roman Tribunal and we stood firmly on a dusty spot, that most will never know, is one of the places, the Michelangelo actually carved his infamous statue of David.

If I am learning anything, one thing would be this:

Holiness is simple.
Holiness is simple and begins like the tiny mustard seeds or a tiny teaspoon of yeast and yet it transforms the world.

If these days are teaching or encouraging us to do anything, maybe one of the lessons is to encourage us to continue transforming the world by our smallness.

It can be as simple as this:
Thank you for being you and sharing yourself with the world!