16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I: Wisdom 12:13,16-19 II: Romans 8:26-27
24 Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field;
25 but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.
27 And the servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?'
28 He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?'
29 But he said, 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
31 Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field;
32 it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."
33 He told them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened."
34 All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed he said nothing to them without a parable.
35 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world."
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field."
37 He answered, "He who sows the good seed is the Son of man;
38 the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one,
39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.
40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.
41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers,
42 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
The word "weeds" were used to refer to darnel, tares or cockle. These weeds are so much like wheat in the early stages that it is very hard to distinguish them from real wheat. They can only be distinguished later when they are grown, but their roots would be too intertwined with those of the wheat so that both would be uprooted. The grain of these weeds is slightly poisonous and can cause sickness if eaten.
Sowing weeds into an enemy's field was a common form of vengeance or sabotage at that time. Roman laws punished it as a crime.
A mustard seed would grow into a shrub-like tree about 10 to 12 feet high. The emphasis is the contrast between the insignificance of the beginning of the kingdom and the unimaginable greatness of the completed kingdom.
With the Jews, leaven represents something sinful or evil. One of the preparation ceremonies for Passover was to search and burn every scrap of leaven that can be found in the house. It was however used here by Jesus as a figure of something good. Jesus must have chosen this figure deliberately to arouse attention, and to emphasize the transforming power of the leaven.
One Main Point
God believes in people. He is patient to give us freedom to discern, spiritual food to grow, and time to transform for the Kingdom of God.
To separate rightly the ones from the others is an impossible task for those who can judge only according to appearance. God alone can see clearly what is in the human heart. Contemplate your social and spiritual environments. What do you see of yourself and what do you perceive of others?
Contemplate your daily life. Like the mustard seeds that grow ceaselessly, what effort have you put in to grow spiritually under the grace of God? Is your faith growing stronger day after day? What should you do to encourage it along?
Like the yeast that leavens the dough, how have you allowed or used the Words of God to transform your complete being for the Kingdom of God?