Sunday reflection by Very Reverend Stephen E. Salocks, Rector of Saint John's Seminary - July 19, 2020
On this Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we continue to hear the parables of Jesus about the Kingdom of Heaven, as reported in the Gospel of Matthew. Once again, the parables challenge our imaginations and encourage our faith. Good seeds and weeds growing together show us how our Lord and St. Matthew were both very aware of the contrast between those who heard Jesus’ teaching and accepted it and those who heard it and rejected it. As he preserved and handed on Jesus’ teaching, St. Matthew could see the ways the Christian community was growing in those who accepted Jesus’ teaching. The mustard seeds and yeast might begin in small and imperceptible ways, but they could lead to great influences for change and growth. Matthew collected and presented Jesus’ parables to show how the Kingdom works and how God is present and active in the lives of His people. Matthew explained to Christians in his time and our time how the Kingdom is growing despite enemies and failures, and how Christian believers are to respond as they wait for the great day of God’s coming.
First of all, as the Book of Wisdom tells us today, believers keep their eyes on God, whose strength is the beginning of His justice. He is the God of all but acts sparingly with each and every one of us. God judges with clemency, governs with indulgence, and has taught His people that justice must always be kind. His conduct is that of a parent who corrects and, at the same time, gives the children hope in forgiveness. God’s patience leaves time for conversion as long as one is alive.
Just as importantly, we believers listen to Jesus, who continues to meet us where we are. The presence of God in our lives, like the mustard plant or the loaf of bread, usually starts from humble beginnings. A life of prayer is crucial to the building-up of this relationship. Prayer helps us grow closer to Jesus, and through Jesus, to the Father in Heaven. We are not left alone in this effort. In today’s Second Reading, Paul reminds the Romans and us that when we struggle in prayer, “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought.” Strengthened and guided by God’s Spirit, we can cultivate the Word we have from our Lord and grow in our relationship with him. Maintaining a regular prayer routine is the way to allow the good seed to grow and to let God strengthen our relationship with Him and His Son. Note again the final exhortation of the Gospel: “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”
One last note, unrelated to the reflection on this week’s scripture readings: I want to invite you to participate in an exciting, new, and entertaining summer challenge in support of priestly and lay formation programs here at Saint John’s Seminary – the Saint John’s Seminary Putting Challenge!
Good Luck and God’s Blessing to you for supporting our mission of forming your next generation of priests and lay leaders for our Church.