19 July 202016 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
16 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
16 Ordinary Time

Sixteenth Sunday: The Christian Farmer’s Almanac 


            The parable of the mustard seed. “And Jesus said, behold the mustard seed. It is the smallest of seeds yet it grows into a large bush.”

             I want to begin this article with something you are doing right now, but might be taking for granted reading.  We all can pick up a newspaper, a magazine, a novel, or whatever and in a few moments be brought into a world beyond our immediate surroundings. We can learn new things; we can develop our own intelligence; we can agree or disagree with someone we have never met and never will meet; we can be transported to the world of imagination, etc all due to our ability to read. 

            Now how did this start? How did we learn how to read? We started, most of us, with blocks and individual letters. We learned what sounds these letters represented.  Then we put the letters together and learned how to spell words.  We even learned new words.  We put the words together and learned new concepts or reinforced that which we had learned.  In very small steps, we went from the letters on the blocks to being able to read the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas.

            It all began in a small way. It all began with letters. The Kingdom of God is like a child learning his or her letters. Time goes on and Mom, Dad, and teachers work with the child, and the child's ability to read grows so great that the child becomes a professor of English Literature. And so it is with the Kingdom of God. Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa taught their children their prayers. They brought their children to Church and taught them with their lives to value their relationship with the Lord. And their children became parents and did the same. And their children are the Moms and Dads of our parish. The Church is full of good Christian men and woman, people of all walks of life, even priests, all living the values of the Kingdom of God, the spiritual realities of life.  

             And now you are doing the same. You are teaching the ABC's of religion to your children.  You have faith that the Kingdom of God will spread through them. So, do not wonder if anything is getting through to the children. Do not allow yourself to think that maybe nothing is happening for your children. Trust in God. If a child who learns his letters can become a professor of English Literature, a child who learns the simplest lessons of faith can become a great force of love for the Kingdom of God. Say prayers with your children. Allow God to turn the tiny mustard seed into a great plant.

             The parable of the weeds and the wheat. And Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the farmer who sowed wheat, then an enemy came and sowed weeds....”  The weeds and the wheat grew together. “Let us get rid of the weeds,” said his workers when the weeds and the wheat were still tiny plants. "Better not,” said the farmer, “you might lose some of the wheat too. We will wait until they are ready for harvesting when we're sure we know what is weed and what is wheat. Then we'll get rid of the weeds.”

           The Kingdom of Heaven is like the School where we send our treasures, our children. They are not finished products when they get there. They have to do a lot of growing. They are still our treasures, and we love them. Perhaps in the school there are other children who may not have experienced basic human values. Perhaps, they have been raised in violent households, or households torn apart by some form of chemical dependency. Perhaps, they have witnessed people hurting others, taking what is not theirs, using bad language, doing terrible things. As a result, these children may have some pretty rough edges. Should the principal of the school throw the children from dysfunctional homes out before they cause serious problems, or should he give them the opportunity to learn basic values from the school and even from their classmates? Yes, children need to be removed from the mainstream if they do something that threatens the welfare of the other children, but they are not going to be removed if they have not offended gravely, because the plants are still young and there may be wheat where we think there is weed.

             The Kingdom of Heaven is like the life of every man and every woman. There is that in each of us which is wheat. There is that which is weed. Should God destroy us because of the weed in us?  Or should he give us time?  Perhaps that which is weed in us can be overtaken by that which is wheat.  A strong prayer life goes a long way in preventing serious sin. The Divine Farmer isn't ready to give up on the crop. We should not give up on ourselves. God knows that what may appear to be weed is in reality wheat. For example, a man has a drinking problem. His drinking is destroying himself and his family. Through prayer and the determination to change his life and through his own openness to the grace of God, he goes for help. He first becomes a member of AA.  Then he is active in helping others. Now for the last fifteen years he is dry. He is still an alcoholic, but his condition has resulted in virtue overcoming vice. Now he helps others. God did not give up on him. He did not give up on himself. What looked like weed, the disease of alcoholism, turned out to be wheat as he brings God's healing to other alcoholics.

            The parable of the mustard seed: the little efforts we make for the Kingdom of God have a tremendous impact upon the world. The parable of the weeds and wheat: God has infinite patience. He is not about to give up on his people. We should not give up on others. And we should not give up on ourselves.  

            The parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the weeds and the wheat. Two simple parables. Two simple stories. Two tremendous sources of encouragement for us. 

             Amazing Grace.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
16 Ordinary Time

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
16 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
16 Ordinary Time

Last Sunday we had the parable of the Sower, this Sunday we have the parable of the Man Sowing Good Seed, next Sunday Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a treasure hidden in a field.


These agricultural images are obviously very appropriate to his listeners who were much closer to the land than most of us are. Jesus uses many other easily understandable images in his parables; for example, today we also have the mustard seed and the yeast in the flour. But there are many, many more very vivid images recorded in the Gospels.

This is a completely different approach from the scribes and the Pharisees who tended to work from the Law. Religion being for them a matter of following sets of laid down instructions: “keep these rules and God will be happy with you!” is what they seem to be saying. And: “if you don’t understand them just ask us—the experts!”

Instead Jesus takes a more figurative approach because it means that all his listeners, from the most sophisticated to the very simplest, can understand them. But that does not mean that Jesus is making things easier for the people. By making things understandable for them means that the moral choices they have to make in life become much clearer, much starker.

This particular parable about the good seed and the darnel certainly presents a very stark comparison between those who do good and those who do evil. Jesus seems to be suggesting that you are either a) virtuous and will shine like the sun or b) are evil and will be thrown into the blazing furnace. He presents no middle way.

That sounds rather unfortunate to us. If you are anything like me you have a bit of good and a bit of bad in you. Not completely bad! But then not completely good either! This puts us all in a bit of a quandary. We want to be good but we find ourselves badmouthing our neighbours; we want to be holy but we don’t say our prayers very often; we want to be trustworthy but, well, if nobody’s looking…!

This is the very human dilemma most of us are in. We want to get to heaven but we are a little nervous of that big book and what St Peter has been writing about us over all these years. We might not like what we find when we get to those pearly gates. Will we gain admission or not? It could be a bit of a moot point! There might be a lot of humming and hawing!

What Jesus is doing is highlighting the fundamental choice all of us must make in our life. Naturally he wants us to choose the good, to follow the way he outlines for us. But, of course, it must be our absolutely free choice and that leaves open the possibility that we might make a fundamental choice for evil, a choice not to go the way he sets before us.

Jesus does not do this to be difficult. He does it so that we see clearly the way we are going in life. He does it to help us make the right choices without ever restricting our freedom. This is, in fact, the most loving and caring thing he can do for us.


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