Faith makes fertile ground for God’s ‘seeds’ to grow in us

By: By Tim Irwin

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 20

Wisdom 12:13,16-19; Psalm 86:5-6,9-10,15-16; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13-24-43

The Gospel readings for last week, this week, and next week are drawn from the 13th chapter of Matthew. This chapter relates the parables of the Kingdom of God, some of the best known teachings of Jesus. In recounting the parables, Matthew highlights the difference between those who accept his revelation and those who reject it.

The skeptic among us might say that it’s no surprise that so many failed to accept the message. Jesus says that knowledge of the mystery of the Kingdom of God has not been granted to the crowd. That’s because, as the parable of the sower from last week’s Gospel illustrates, it’s not about knowledge. It’s all about faith.

Most of the seed is lost in one way or another. Only the seed landing on fertile ground produces new life. The seeds represent the person and message of Jesus. The fertile ground refers to those who have faith, for in faith is found genuine understanding. In the absence of faith, the meaning is lost. Jesus explains the meaning of the parable to the disciples because they have faith.

This week we hear in Matthew the parable of the wheat and the weeds. A man sowed good seeds into his field. While asleep his enemy sowed weeds. Once detected, the slave asks the man if he should immediately pull the weeds. The man says no. In other words, God leaves us to become who we wish to be. God blesses both wheat and weed with the sun and the rain, but let nobody become complacent for a different fate awaits at the harvest.

DON’T JUDGE TOO QUICKLY
The mustard seed may not be the smallest seed on Earth, but it was the smallest in the Holy Land at the time of Christ. The fact that such a large plant could come from such a small seed may not amaze us today, but the point would have been clear to those listening to Jesus.

Perhaps, this parable reminds us not to judge too quickly. Presumptions about what might happen in the future may blind us to the power of God. Again, Jesus calls us to have faith because the power of God works in ways that are not always obvious to us.

The parable of the yeast repeats the lesson. The batter is mostly flour and water, and yet this tiny bit of yeast leavens the entire batch; it has an effect disproportionate to its presence in the mix. Such is the Kingdom of God.

Next week, we will hear the stories of hidden treasure and a pearl of great price. Think about someone you love. When we’re with people we love, it might be likened to the exhilaration of finding a hidden treasure. The merchant in search of fine pearls might be likened to a person meeting someone and in time falling in love. To fall in love is to find the pearl of great price.

Throughout the 13th chapter of Matthew, Jesus calls us to enter into the Kingdom of His Father. Our faith makes a fertile place for the seeds of the Kingdom of God to grow. Coming to spiritual maturity will be a struggle in this weed-infested world. At first, it may seem hopeless, but remember the mustard seed is tiny and the least can have an impact beyond the obvious.
Entering the Kingdom of God will be like finding a buried treasure or the pearl of great price — we will have fallen in love with the Divine. Then we will experience a happiness that is everything we have anticipated and nothing that we expected.

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TIM IRWIN teaches at Peoria Notre Dame High School, where he chairs the Theology Department. He is a member of St. Mark’s Parish in Peoria.

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