Immaculate Conception and St. Dominic, Stone

 

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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Kingdom of God is a Messy business:

Our Gospel today gives us three parables about the Kingdom of God. The first, weeds grow alongside the wheat. The second, a mustard seed grows up to give shelter and security to the birds. The third, a woman mixes yeast/leaven into flour. This reminds me that the Kingdom of God is a messy business. Weeds and wheat grow in earth, so does the mustard seed, and making the mix for bread is a dusty affair. Jesus reminds us He wants us to be proactive and ready to get our hands soiled in His service. I like to see a prayer book that is well thumbed with clear evidence of regular use.

The weeds in the wheat. We must not seek to separate the world into good and bad. People must not be pigeon holed into acceptable or rejected. Jesus came to reach out to sinners and through His mercy give them life. We are here simply to serve, to offer opportunities, to open doors. We must leave judgement to God, because when we judge we do not know the whole story; when we do judge we more often get it wrong than right. We do not know why people are as they are. It is for us to grow alongside them and influence them to the good. To make them our quiet project in prayer. To be patient as God is with us. We must be optimistic and believe leopards can change their spots. Remember the thief on the cross. St. Augustine’s conversion from a great sinner to an outstanding believer in Jesus, defender of the Church and a holy bishop of his flock is testament to giving people every chance and that it is never too late.

The mustard seed: This is a tiny seed which becomes a great bush. The Kingdom of God starts in small ways, in one heart, in the lives of several, soon a community is formed. We should not play the numbers game and feel small in comparison to so many around us who do not believe, see no point to religion and remain indifferent. The important point is that the Church is here for people, like the birds in the parable, to shelter in it. Our door is open to those who wish to seek the security of believing and belonging. Mother Teresa said: “God doesn’t ask us to be successful just faithful”. Jesus did a lot once with loaves and fishes. From small acorns… A baptised person embodies the Holy Spirit, the greatest power of all. The Church is not about size. It’s about presence. This brings us to our third parable.

The woman mixes yeast with the flour. The amount of yeast required is small in relation to the flour, but it does the job. Yeast is an influence on what it is mixed with. The flour is better for the presence of the yeast. Yeast brings increase. The Church is in the world. The world may not appreciate what we do but that doesn’t matter. We pray for the world and intercede for it. We do not seek recognition or approval. We just want to please God and promote the good of others.

These three parables, combined by the Lord, are a huge source of encouragement to His followers. The Church must not be afraid to live its faith confidently. To keep our eyes on the Lord and not be influenced by the ebb and flow around us. The Kingdom of God is established in the world. Nothing can change this and it is here to stay until the end of time when it will enter its fullness. We must never feel irrelevant or outdated, but keep quietly loving, serving, caring, forgiving and praying. Because we cannot see the influence for good that we are, doesn’t mean our life is unfruitful – it is bearing fruit, and God will reward you. The parables end with the final judgment of God. He will have the final say and we trust in His mercy to deal with any residual ‘weeds’ so that we can go into the banquet of Heaven. You will overcome and you will live forever. So keep smiling.

God bless, Fr. Gerard X

 

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