• 16th Sunday A

    Posted on July 22, 2017 by in Reflections on Sunday Gospels

    The kingdom of heaven is like….


        INTRODUCTION:   This Sunday we continue to hear from the Parable

    Discourse of Matthew’s chapter 13.  The structure of this Sunday’s

    reading is similar to last Sunday’s: 1) parables to the crowds, 2)

    comment on the reasons for parables, 3) private instruction to the

    disciples giving an explanation of the parable of the wheat and darnel.


    HOMILY:  This Sunday we hear three parables of Jesus: wheat and weeds,

    mustard seed, and leaven.  In the first of the three we notice that this

    time the problem is not the ground on which it falls, but on the kind of

    seed and on the distinction between the sowers.  In the second, the size

    of the seed is stressed. In the third it is not about seeds used for

    planting but about seeds used for food, namely meal.


        1st parable:  Up until the parousia the church will always be a

    mixed bag of good and evil. The advice is tolerance and patience until

    God renders his definitive decision.  The householder does not retaliate

    against his enemy.  He even uses the weeds as fuel to burn.  Drawing

    good out of evil.  The parable concerns the proper attitude toward the

    mixed reception accorded to Jesus.             * Confusion will clarify.


        2nd parable: contrast between the small, unpromising beginnings of

    the kingdom and its full, triumphant expansion.  Yet not the

    triumphalness of a cedar but a mustard tree.   * Littleness grows.


        3rd parable: uses a well known symbol in an unusual way.  Yeast or

    leaven was for Jews and Christians a symbol of corruption.  Perhaps

    because Jesus gathers round him the unclean sinners of the land, he

    prefers to use yeast as a symbol of the kingdom which comes in small,

    hidden, and perhaps despised beginnings.  The amount of flour is

    ridiculously large, another example of hyperbole to stress the vast

    success of the kingdom.                        * The hidden be seen.


     v. 36 The return of Jesus to the house signals his break with the

    crowds and symbolically his break with Israel.  It is a TURNING POINT IN

    THE GOSPEL.  It is not an accident that this rupture occurs halfway

    through the gospel.  Henceforth Israel will show greater and greater

    hostility, and Jesus will turn more and more to his disciples, to devote

    himself to their formation.


    Explanation of the Parable:  While the parable was concerned with the

    coexistence of good and evil persons in the Kingdom, the explanation

    focuses on the harvesting at the end of time.  In vs. 40-43 the language

    is highly apocalyptic, looks to the last judgement: images of end of the

    world, harvesting, the fiery furnace, reaping angels and weeping and

    gnashing of teeth (intense distress and rage).  It looks forward to the

    parable of the separation of the sheep and goats at last judgement. 

    This language has the effect of shifting the focus from patient

    tolerance in the present to the spectacular events that will constitute

    the end of the world.  It is God’s business to decide who belongs to the

    kingdom.  He will reward the just and cast evildoers into the fiery


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