Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Modern

Matthew 13; 24 - 43

The Gospel today continues with some parables of Jesus. Parables are intended to cause the listener to think about them, and reflect on what Jesus meant in telling them. One can hear the same parable numerous times, and each time gain a different insight into its’ meaning. The three given to us today; the weeds among the wheat, the mustard seed, and the yeast, are about the Kingdom of Heaven. As I reflected on them the virtue that stands out is patience.

A common reaction when things in our lives don’t go as planned is to quickly make changes without fully considering the consequences. When the farmer first realized that weeds were growing in the midst of his wheat he could have immediately began to get rid of the weeds so as to protect the wheat. But as Jesus points out, pulling out the weeds would also mean pulling out the wheat. Jesus calls them to be patient. Patience is a virtue that seems to be seen less and less today. The patience to wait for the right moment to speak or act is not always easy. Waiting for God to answer our prayer can be frustrating. We expect ourselves and others to act quickly in making decisions. The pressure is on for the quick fix, not the well thought out solution or resolution.

When a child is taught how a little seed grows into a plant, it is common for the child to keep watching the soil for the plant, then to keep checking every few moments. One of the first lesson we learn when it comes to planting is that it takes time. When we plant a seed we aren’t going to see the plant, bush or tree mature for quite a while, sometimes years. Like the mustard seed in the parable, the seed is so small yet grows into the beautiful flower, spreading shrub, or mighty tree. It’s hard to believe when we look at the seed to envision how with patience we will see the growth. The same is true in our spiritual lives. We might have experienced some conversion and we look at our lives and realize how much we have to change. That realization can become almost overwhelming and lead us to think that it is impossible to make all these changes. When the changes don’t happen right away we can become frustrated and discouraged. God is patient with us and we would do well to imitate Christ by cultivating the virtue of patience. With patience we can walk to road of conversion, and progress in the spiritual life.

Patience does seem to be lacking in society today. We like “fast food”, instant news and movies via the internet, online banking, a quick response to our emails and texts. We have grown too accustomed to getting things taken care of quickly, and patience has faded into the background. A rediscovery of patience is necessary in our lives. It is patience that is needed for us to see the Kingdom of Heaven that is in our midst. God’s presence slowly becomes more evident in our lives, and the answer to prayers involves our slowly uniting our prayers with the will of God. Sometimes our vision of the Kingdom is small, but as we patiently grow in faith it becomes more and more evident in our lives. The three parables teach us that the Kingdom of God is here, and will take time for it to become fully established. Meanwhile, we have the need to be patient and attentive to how God is working within us and in the world.

Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.