22 Jul


(A biblical reflection on THE 16th ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR A], 23 July 2017)


Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:24-30 (long version: Matthew 13:24-43) 

First Reading: Wisdom 12:13,16-19; Psalms: Psalm 86:5-6,9-10,15-16; Second Reading: Romans 8:26-27 

The Scripture Text

Another parable He put before them, saying, “The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds? He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30 RSV)

In a fifth-grade class there were two boys by the name of Fred. One Fred, the smaller one, bothered the teacher with his undisciplined antics and his refusal to study. Because of him, she frequently questioned the wisdom of becoming a teacher.

At the first P.T.A. meeting a polite lady entered her classroom and introduced herself as Fred’s mother. Assuming that she was the mother of the other Fred, who was one of her favorite students, the teacher lavishly praised him and said that he was a fine boy and a real joy to have in class.

The following morning, little Fred came dashing into the classroom before the other students and threw his arms around his teacher. “Thank you,” he half sobbed, “for telling my mother I was one of your favorite students and a joy to have in class.” Shocked by his words but remaining prudently silent, the teacher realized the mistaken identity. “I haven’t been good – but I will be.” She softly patted his down-cast head and turned away in tears. She never revealed that she had thought the nice lady was the mother of the other Fred. Little Fred was changed from that moment. He did become one of her favorite students and a joy to have in class.

The story of the two Freds in a way illustrates the parable of the Weeds and the Wheat in today’s Gospel. In real life, weeds don’t become wheat but ugliness can be changed into beauty. We are naturally proud of the “wheat” people and often irritated with the “weed” people. Like the servants in the story, we might want to pull up the weeds and throw them out. Many good citizens might have grown up to become criminals, had not someone convinced them that they could do better and had encouraged them to try.

Not only children but all people need the affirmation and encouragement of others. The good and the bad are never isolated but live side by side through the years. No one becomes a saint or sinner in an instant. The seed grows slowly, but God is patient.

Every small deed of kindness is like the mustard seed in the Gospel which can lead to great and glorious results, multiplying itself thousands of times. Many giant organizations are the lengthened results of one little idea. Many lifelong friendships have started with one tiny smile. On the other hand, bitter fights and even wars have begun from small misunderstandings the size of a mustard seed.

If we could eliminate the tiny hurts, the giant troubles would not have to be solved. They would not exist. Little seeds of kindness and love, carefully planted by each of us, can make this world a paradise where we could peacefully live and grow together.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for having written some people off as beyond help. Knowing Your love and patience toward me, I am compelled to pray that every “hopeless case” will make it into Your Kingdom. I pray for an abundant harvest of the finest wheat. Amen.

Jakarta, 21 July 2017 

A Christian Pilgrim 


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