Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 20, 2014

•Wisdom 12: 13, 16-19; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13: 24-43• Weekly Scripture

Readings: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s text from the gospel of Matthew contains three parables. One is about wheat and weeds.  The second is about the mustard seed. The third is about yeast used in baking bread.  Perhaps we are so familiar with these parables that we fail to hear and appreciate what Matthew’s Jesus is saying. So lets try to find a fresh, perhaps new appreciation of them. Since my birth nearly 80 years ago, six individuals have sat in the chair of Peter.  Three of those bishops were big on the doctrine of “infallibility.”  They considered it their responsibility to protect church doctrine from error and to enforce the rigid categories of moral theology and canon law. “What are we to do about the weeds?”  John Paul II and Benedict XVI looked out from the balcony of St. Peters in Rome, saw an infestation of weeds, and did all they could to “get rid of the weeds.”  The style and teaching of the current bishop of Rome is entirely different. Francis looks out from the same balcony and sees a field of competing crops.  He sees “the reign of God,” / “God’s new reality” emerging, growing wherever people love their brothers and sisters and promote the dignity of every human being. Francis is a planter of “good seed” — the message of Jesus, the gospel of God’s unconditional love. He has bypassed the more rigid categories of moral theology and canon law that characterized the teaching of his predecessors and calls us to proclaim “mercy and forgiveness.” His efforts have awakened both cheers and jeers within our household of faith.  Weeds have begun to sprout in the form of opposition to his style and message.  That opposition is subtle but real.  Rather than reacting to his critics with condemnation or anger and “getting rid of them,”  Francis embraces the way of Christ. “Let both weeds and wheat grow together until harvest.” Francis is a man of faith who trusts life is more than we see or experience.  He walks humbly before the mystery of God.  Things may not go as he or we hope or intend.  Yet he trusts “God’s new reality” is emerging among us.  He trusts that while we go about our lives without noticing anything special, something mysterious is going on inside life, under the surface.  He trusts the Gracious Mystery we name God is silently transforming the world. In his book, “The Divine Milieu,” Father Teilhard de Chardin shares abundant insight into these parables and the Gracious Mystery we name God. He wrote,    Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally, impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We are impatient of being on the way to         something unknown, something new.    Only God can say what God’s Spirit forming within us will gradually reveal.  Believe that God’s hand guides you from within and all will be accomplished.” Jesus repeated it over and over again: God is transforming creation from deep within. “God’s new reality” “the reign of God” is emerging among us. Follow the example of Francis.  Walk humbly before God. Be like the mustard seed.  Trust “God’s new reality” is emerging and allow the gospel to transform your way of living, loving, laughing and being. Embrace the wisdom of Teilhard de Chardin.  “Only God can say what God’s Spirit forming within us will gradually reveal.”   Be like yeast that a woman hides in the dough. Share the uncertainties, crises and contradictions of our fellow citizens. Trust that the gentle influence of your life will transform the larger society. It seems apparent to many that weeds have infiltrated our church and human societies in general.   What do we do about the weeds? Proclaim “mercy and forgiveness,” and “let both weeds and wheat grow together until harvest.”

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