16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (2017)

The book of Wisdom tells us that, “those who are just must be kind”.  In this world of ours, were we would like those who are wicked to get whatever is coming to them—their “just deserts” if you will— it is hard to put the ideas of justice and mercy together.  When seeking justice, we, as children of God, should strive to be merciful, just as God permits repentance for our sins over and over again.  The second reading assures us that this God of Justice and mercy, not only hears us when we call, but also knows what we are praying for, even when we have no words.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus presents three parables.  The theme: The Kingdom of Heaven.  But wait, Jesus never really gives a definition of the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven.  Instead he sparks the imagination of his listeners—which includes us—and leaves us bursting with curious wonder trying to imagine what it all means.  In the parable of the mustard seed, the Kingdom of Heaven starts out small, but soon grows and spreads, and becomes refuge to all.  In the parable of yeast, the Kingdom of Heaven transforms our hearts and our lives, just as yeast transforms flour.  At this moment, as I enjoy my cup of tea, I find myself thinking even more about the parable of the weeds in the field.  I can’t help but think about the people living in countries where everyone is afraid to go the market, or take a walk in the park, because of the horrors of terrorism.  They probably wonder daily, “where is the Kingdom of Heaven?  Why must the “weeds” take over our field of life?  I also find myself thinking of the refugees who fled their homes, only to be turned away as they arrive in other lands.  They also must be asking, “where is the Kingdom of Heaven?  Is there room for me?  Can I find refuge there?  If we begin with the idea that the kingdom of God has root in our hearts, then, we know that despite the “weeds” of negativity, fear and cruelty that sometimes reside within us, there is growth, and our actions bear fruit.  The kingdom of God rooted in our hearts, should become a place where those who need rest find solace, and thereby, we all experience transformation for the better. Regardless of the situation or circumstance, God’s love continuously grows in us, and this love nourishes us so we can bloom.

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