The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 12: 13, 16-19 + Psalm 85 + Romans 8: 26-27 + Matthew 13: 24-43

July 23, 2023 at Saint William Church in Naples, FL

More parables today, but that’s all there is in Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel, and we have one more week of them yet to come.  Parables are a teacher’s way of surprising disciples and inviting them to compare themselves with the Father whose image Jesus has come to restore in us. So, last week he taught and amazed us over how extravagant the Father is throwing gifts everywhere and to everyone. We were challenge to see how much like that Father we are with sharing our gifts. And now, more parables to surprise us, stir our wonder, and compare ourselves again not to each other, but to the one whose life we share and whose image we bear like it or not.

It’s easy these days to look around a see nothing but weeds. I look at the small patch of flowers in my front lawn, and I see weeds long before I see the flowers. The weeds spoil my pleasure, and this Gospel calls that into question. It’s easy these days to look at the church, this country, and this whole world and see nothing but weeds, violence and greed. Meanwhile, some are busy feeding the hungry, visiting the sick or those confined to their homes. Some right here spend their Tuesdays giving hope and comfort to the homeless right here in Naples. Homeless, in Naples, Florida? Parables do invite a surprise and disturb the complacent. In a place with multi-million-dollar homes there really are homeless people just like in Haiti or any other place on this earth. It’s all about what you see or what you look for. Weeds and wheat are almost always found together. Sometimes they are even within us.

A second parable today can surprise and make us wonder over how something great can come from something small offering another comparison that invites us to acknowledge that something as small as a mustard seed can produce something big enough for birds. Something as small as phone call to someone alone, or something as small as a couple of hours out of a week joining St Vincent de Paul workers might offer amazing hope and comfort to someone who slept alone or out sight last night. Little things make a big difference.

In the end, it’s not our job to separate or judge what is weed from what is wheat. To our surprise, to the amazement of some who would like to judge and remove the weeds, the parable works to remind us that God seems to think that this is God’s business and we should leave it alone until the harvest time making sure that like wheat we have provided for that harvest more than fuel for a fire. Our hope is to be gathered into that barn of heaven the parable speaks of.

From this Gospel today, we might be led to wonder and believe in God’s care. Believing that weeds will come to nothing, while we marvel at growing wheat, a sprouting mustard seed, the power a tiny enzyme of yeast has to bring life into life a mass of dough. It’s time to let creation sweep us into awe at what is bigger, more beautiful, deeper and more of everything than we can imagine.

Father Tom Boyer