Catholic Sunday Mass celebrated by Fr James Ralston O.M.I., recorded at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Durban, South Africa.
ENTRANCE ANTIPHON I have God for my help. The Lord sustains my soul. I will sacrifice to you with willing heart, and praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.
FIRST READING: Wisdom 12:13, 16-19.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm 86.
O Lord, you are good and forgiving.
O Lord, you are good and forgiving, full of mercy to all who call to you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer, and attend to my voice in supplication. ℟
All the nations you have made shall come; they will bow down before you, O Lord, and glorify your name, for you are great and do marvellous deeds, you who alone are God. ℟
But you, O God, are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, O Lord, abundant in mercy and fidelity; turn and take pity on me. ℟
SECOND READING: Romans 8:26-27.
GOSPEL ACCLAMATION: Alleluia, alleluia! Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom. Alleluia.
GOSPEL: Matthew 13:24-43.
SERMON: Fr James Ralston O.M.I.
Sunday 16 A
It might have been tempting to have taken the shorter version of the Gospel reading than the longer one, but the longer form raises the opportunity to explore why and how Jesus uses parables.
The familiarity we might have with parables can mean that we automatically bring an interpretation with us when we hear them, or perhaps we bring the assumption that there is one standard way of explaining each one. In fact, the way in which Jesus heaps these very different images one on top of another might suggest that the reality is otherwise. Jesus’ injunction, “He who has ears, let him hear;” is to be taken seriously. We are offered three very different images: the sowing of the seed by the farmer and of the weeds by his enemy; the image of a tiny seed that grows into a tree to provide shelter, and a woman leavening flour with yeast. These are all dynamic images – things happening over time. The first image includes an opportunity to reflect on the element of confrontation between good and evil, the second offers an insight into how tiny beginnings can have a positive impact on others and the third emphasis how small things can have a great effect in changing everything with which it comes into contact. By contrasting these images, other themes may emerge and other insights gained if one perseveres in the quest.
The observation that Jesus teaches in parables and that this is both characteristic of him, but also raises questions in his hearers, and is part of the three synoptic Gospels. That the people are told to ‘listen’ carriers with it an invitation to the hearers of today, that is you and me, to enter into the parable and discover the Good News. Jesus is not teaching in some sort of weird code, he asking those who really seek the Kingdom of God to make the journey of discovery, by seriously engaging in his words, that is what he meant by ‘listen’.
Listening to the Word of God is an active and demanding task. This is the major thrust of Wisdom literature represented in the first reading from the Book of Wisdom and what it brings us; and the guidance of the Spirit that assists us and comes to help us in our weakness from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans,
Three times in the short passage from his letter to the Romans, St. Paul talks of the Spirit and clearly describes the Spirit as an active agent. It is the Spirit who comes to us in our weakness; it is the Spirit who expresses our plea; it is the Spirit who makes our pleas according to the mind of God. God already knows everything in our hearts perfectly well; so it is not as if we had to discover and new language or code in order to communicate with a distant or alien entity. We are already called by God and called in love. The difficulty in prayer is primarily due to the stumbling of we who are awe-struck when beginning to realise that we are beloved and, in that situation, any words, no matter how inadequate, will be acceptable.
“He who has ears, let him hear!” is to be taken seriously. The salient point of Gospel message is so obvious that we, no doubt, fail to recognise that Jesus is saying to us that both good and bad exist in each one of us; sometimes we fail to discern and differentiate between the two. Decisions to be made are confusing as we battle to tell the advantages from disadvantages; it is then that we should resort to the wisdom of St. Paul: bring it to prayer and allow the Spirit to communicate with our Lord so as to guide us to make the correct and life-giving decision. Listening to God’s Wisdom in the silence of our hearts.
COMMUNION ANTIPHON: The Lord, the gracious, the merciful, has made a memorial of his wonders; he gives food to those who fear him.