Tuesday, 12 July 2011

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A

Wisdom 12:13.16-19; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43

The gospel parable today is about a man and his enemy.

A man ... sowed good seed in his field.

Notice that? - the seed is good and the field is his.

The man, of course, is Jesus; we all knew that, didn't we?

And we know Jesus doesn't sow seeds, he sows the word of God. This changes the picture immediately.

Now the image of a farmer walking up and down the rows of his field scattering seed is replaced by the image of Jesus tirelessly travelling Palestine sowing the word of life.

Another way of putting this is to say that Jesus is calling to communion.

We do well to reflect that the very foundation of human dignity is that we are called to communion with our Creator; no other life form, animate or inanimate, is called to do that.

The word of God which 'sprouts' in a human life draws that life into communion with the Blessed Trinity; into the same communion shared by the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.

What's more, it draws that life into communion with every other life which has allowed the word to grow within it. Together they become 'subjects of the kingdom'. No wonder the seed is 'good'.

Jesus is calling us to fulfilment, wholeness, peace and eternal life.

… his enemy came and sowed darnel all among the wheat …

Notice that? - the seed is worthless and the field does not belong to him.

The enemy, of  course, is 'the evil one'; the devil.

The devil, too, is tireless. He sneaks around the world sowing poisonous seeds called lies; that is why he is called 'father of lies'.

Another way of putting this is to say that Satan is calling to alienation. He is calling us away from the very foundation of our human dignity, and therefore, from all possibility of happiness.

We already see that the evil one himself is alienated. He came in the dark, while 'everybody was asleep', and then he 'made off.'

If a man or woman opens themselves to the 'seed' of the devil and it 'sprouts' in their life they find themselves cut off from God and from all those who belong to the kingdom.

And don't make the mistake of thinking there will be communion among the 'subjects of the evil one' because there will be only alienation and hatred among his followers; even Satan hates his 'subjects'.

'In the beginning' God planted a garden, and then he planted his word in Adam and Eve. It was his word which defined them and, of course, this word was an invitation to communion: … of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat. (Gn 2:17)

Obedience to that word would preserve harmony and happiness and lead to everlasting life and, if they rejected the invitation, they would 'most surely die'.

The serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that Yahweh God had made. (Gn 3:1)

You know the rest of the story. Satan sows his lie in God's field. Adam and Eve fall and become subjects of the evil one. The story should have ended there but God had another chapter to write.

It concerned another seed which one night, in another garden, surveyed the awfulness of the prison mankind had cast itself into, and was 'sorrowful to the point of death'. (Mk 13:24)

Knowing well the truth that 'unless the grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain' (Jn 12:24) this seed 'threw himself to the ground' and surrendered to the death which awaited him.

Three days later it yielded 'a rich harvest'.

Look again at our parable. We should not ask what is the seed Jesus wants to plant in us, we should ask who is the seed Jesus wants to plant in us? It is none other than himself: his life death and resurrection.

Only by saying yes can we become subjects of the kingdom of heaven.

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