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LET BOTH GROW TOGETHER UNTIL THE HARVEST

LET BOTH GROW TOGETHER UNTIL THE HARVEST

(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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THE SOWER: 15th ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR A] – Matthew 13:1-9

Jakarta, 16 July 2017

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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A BEAUTIFUL PARABLE OF JESUS IN THE FIELD OF FARMING

A BEAUTIFUL PARABLE OF JESUS IN THE FIELD OF FARMING

(A biblical reflection on the 15th Ordinary Sunday [Year A] – 16 July 2017)

 

Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:1-9 (longer version: Matthew 13:1-23) 

First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalms: Psalm 65:10-14, Second Reading: Romans 8:18-23

The Scripture Text

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about Him, so that He got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. And He told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9 RSV) 

Methods of farming in Jesus’ day were very different from the methods modern farmers use. Today’s farmer plows the field before scattering the seed, but in biblical times farmers reversed the process. The first-century farmer scattered the seed on the ground first and then turned over the soil. We must keep this in mind when reading today’s Gospel.

Because the seed rested on top of the ground for a while before the farmer plowed the soil, the wind sometimes blew it to an area the farmer did not intend it to be. This explains how some of the seed landed on the foot path and how some of it ended up on the rocky ground or among the thorns.

In the analogy in today’s Gospel, the seed represents the word of God and the different places where the seed landed represent different kinds of people and their response to the Gospel message. The rocky soil stands for the person who hears God’s word but does not allow it to take root. Letting the seed take root means letting the Gospel message make a difference in a person’s life. It means living out one’s commitment to Jesus by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick or lonely.

Some of the seed landed among thorns which represent worldly cares like fame, power, and money. When these become the center of a person’s life, there isn’t much time or energy left for prayer and spiritual matters.

Some seed landed on the footpath. This symbolizes the person who hears God’s word but doesn’t take time to study Scripture and, therefore, doesn’t understand it. As a result, the Gospel message cannot make much of a difference in this person’s life.

Finally some of the seed fell on good soil where it produced a yield of thirty, sixty, or a hundred-fold. The good soil represents people who are spiritually fruitful because they not only hear God’s word but also understand it and live it. Since a farmer in Jesus’ day would have been extremely proud of such a large harvest, we can assume Jesus is proud of us when His word takes root and grows in our lives.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, God, open my heart to the power of God’s word in the Scripture. Help me to learn God’s ways. Make me into good soil that receives the seed of Your precious word and bears in me the fruit of your love.

Jakarta, 13 July 2017 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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COME TO ME: 14th ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR A] – Matthew 11:25-30

Jakarta, 9 July 2017

A Christian Pilgrim 

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2017 in MISCELLANY

 

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EASY YOKE AND LIGHT BURDEN

EASY YOKE AND LIGHT BURDEN

(A biblical reflection on the 14th Ordinary Sunday [Year A], 9 July 2017)

Gospel Reading: Matthew 11:25-30 

First Reading: Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalms: Psalm 145:1-2,8-11,13-14, Second Reading: Romans 8:9,11-13

The Scripture Text

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was Thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30 RSV) 

Many of Jesus’ parables are about fishing, farming and herding because those were the three most common occupations in His day. The parable in today’s Gospel reading is aimed at getting the attention of the farmers in Jesus’ audience.

In this parable, Jesus says we should take His yoke upon our shoulders and learn from Him. A yoke, a type of harness a farmer uses to attach a couple of oxen to a plow or a wagon, looks like the McDonald’s golden arches over the shoulders of the two animals. With the yoke attached, the oxen share the burden of pulling the plow or the wagon.

If one of the oxen is old or sickly, the other ox has to work harder. Sometimes the farmer will team a young ox with an older, more experienced ox so the younger one will learn from the older one how to pull the yoke. Until the younger one gets the hang of it the older ox must do most of the work.

When Jesus says we should take His yoke and learn from Him, He is offering to share our burdens with us With Jesus helping us, our burden will be light and easy to pull. Just as the two oxen work side by side, Jesus is willing to walk beside us and help us as we travel through life. We do not have to face life’s problems all by ourselves.

Because our society values independence, most of us want to prove we can succeed on our own. This pride not only drives us further from each other, but it also drives us further from our God. In our obsession to do it by ourselves, we shut out all help from everyone else, even help from Jesus.

Maybe that’s why Jesus praises the Father for taking what was hidden from learned and the clever, and revealing it to the children. The learned and the clever are those who are those who are self-sufficient and less likely to accept Jesus’ help because they’d rather try to succeed on their own. Children, on the other hand, have no problem with being dependent on others. They are accustomed to looking around for assistance and are therefore more likely to turn to Jesus in their moment of need.

(Source: Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A,B, and C.)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I confess that without You, I am really nothing. I am grateful, however, that You are always present to help me. And,Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light. May the Spirit who dwells in You dwell also in me, and lead me to love and trust the Father as You do. Amen.

Jakarta, 7 July 2017 

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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SAINT THOMAS, APOSTLE – FEAST: 3 JULY

Thomas is renowned among the apostles chiefly because of his lack of faith which was dispelled when the risen Christ appeared to him.  He proclaimed what is in fact the Easter faith of the Church when he said: “My Lord and my God”. Nothing certain is known of his life aart from whaat is given in the gospels, but tradition has it that he preached to the people of India. From the sixth century a feast of the translation of his relics has been kept at Edessa on 3 July.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let our celebration of the feast of St. Thomas the apostle be the source of his unfailing help and protection. Fill us with Your life giving grace through Faith in Your Son, our Jesus, whom Thomas acknowledged to be his Lord and God. We make our prayer in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jakarta, 3 July 2017

A Christian Pilgrim 

 
 

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MATTHEW 7:12-14 (Part of the Gospel Reading for today’s Mass)

Jakarta, 27 June 2017

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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