Lectionary Reflections: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a] July 20, 2014

Engaging Faith | Tue, Jul 8, 2014

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

July 20, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern


Wisdom 12:13, 16-19

Romans 8:26-27

Matthew 13:24-43 or 13:24-30



July 22: Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, patroness of penitents and pharmacists

July 26: Feasts of Saints Joachim and Anne, patrons of grandparents



One may sin by greed and the desire for power, but one may also sin in these matters through fear, indecision, and cowardice!

- John Paul II, On Social Concern, 47

Renewal is an ever-present need. … Wherever the gift of healing and liberation in however partial a manner reaches the winterized or damaged earth, or peoples crushed by war and injustice or individual persons weary, harmed, sick or lost on life’s journey, there the new creation in the Spirit is happening. … Justice and peace throughout the world of nature and the human world are the effects of the Spirit’s renewing power, coming to fruition whenever human beings find community in mutual relations of sympathy and love.

Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is

The solidarity which binds all people together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.

John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, 157

Christian morality is not a form of stoicism, or self-denial, or merely a practical philosophy or a catalogue of sins and faults. Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.

Pope Francis, Evangelli Gaudium, 39

Violence and injustice in the form of massive poverty, sexism, racism, and war destroy the lives of millions of human beings who die before their time.  The radical transformation of crushing structures and murderous situations does not happen automatically but only through human effort that through active nonviolent resistance struggles for justice and against suffering. … In addition to cosmic and social renewal, Spirit-Sophia’s deeds take place when the life of every person is renewed. Jaded, discouraged, hurt, exhausted, worried, people have need for comfort, healing and new enthusiasm for life that arises every day.  Nonviolently, but persistently the Spirit who dwells at the center of personal existence creates a clean heart, a new spirit, a heart of flesh and compassion instead of a stony heart (Ez 36:26).

Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is


Thoughts for Your Consideration

Today’s scripture deal with the mystery of evil:

  • Evil that shows up growing in the midst of all the good in our world 
  • Evil that can choke the good things that we would like to see grow and prosper 
  • Evil that can show up in the structures and institutions of our world 
  • Evil that is reflected in economic injustice, racism and xenophobia, violence and terrorism, political corruption, and a thousand other things 
  • Evil that can tempt any of us toward violence, greed, and selfishness 
  • Evil that can move us to be concerned about our group’s good and not the common good

Today’s scripture, especially the parable of the weeds and the wheat, reminds us that God looks on this world with all its problems with compassion, love, and patience, not panic, hatred, and violence.  God invites us to look on the world in the same way and act accordingly.

Class and ethnic warfare is not the model of Jesus. 

Jesus models reconciliation and healing.

Turning our back on those in need is not the way of Jesus.

Welcoming the stranger and refugee is the way of Jesus.

Condemnation of the poor is not the way of Jesus.

Active solidarity with the poor is the way of Jesus.

Meeting evil with evil is not the model of Jesus.  

Jesus speaks of active nonviolent resistance.

Destroying those who seem to be or do evil is not the model of Jesus.  

Jesus believes that change, growth, conversion and reform are all possible. 

People in the wealthier half of the world, can be tempted to look on the other half with an attitude of judgment and even condemnation – much like the servants who want to rip out what they think are weeds right away.  People in one culture can look at people in a different culture with the same critical and rash judgment.  We can condemn and destroy or we can work together toward understanding, reconciliation and peace. People in one political party can look with the members of the other party with great hatred and without listening.

We are invited to discover and learn and grow as a community.


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

  • What evil in the world especially upsets you?  
  • What would you like to do to address it? 
  • How is your response consistent with the values of Jesus Christ?


  • What judgments do you find yourself making about the behavior of individuals and groups of people?
  • Are you tempted to pull up the weeds you see in others?



Aesop’s Fable: The Swallow and The Other Birds

It happened that a Countryman was sowing some hemp seeds in a field where a Swallow and some other birds were hopping about picking up their food. “Beware of that man,” quoth the Swallow. “Why, what is he doing?” said the others. “That is hemp seed he is sowing; be careful to pick up every one of the seeds, or else you will repent it.” The birds paid no heed to the Swallow's words, and by and by the hemp grew up and was made into cord, and of the cords nets were made, and many a bird that had despised the Swallow's advice was caught in nets made out of that very hemp. “What did I tell you?” said the Swallow.  “Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin.”


“Crazy Facts”

  • The New America Foundation reports: “In 1980, the top 0.1 percent owned 3.0% of wealth. Today, the top 0.1 percent owns 11.0%.”


  • @Oxfam: “In 2014 the world will spend $8 billion on peacekeeping, compared to $1745 billion total military spending in 2012.”


Actions - Links

Tell Congress to Keep Up the Fight Against AIDS

Jubilee USA

“Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 religious denominations and faith communities, human rights, environmental, labor, and community groups working for the definitive cancellation of crushing debts to fight poverty and injustice in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.”

Consider taking action at:

Read an Ignatian Reflection on Privilege and Generosity


Prayers of Intercession

Response: Spirit of God, help us in our weakness

War continues in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Central African Republic, various other places in Africa, and all around the world. We pray.

Nations continue to spend fortunes on preparations for war. We pray.

Millions of people have awesome wealth. We pray.

Billions of people continue to live in poverty. We pray.

Millions of people cannot afford enough good food to eat. We pray.

Millions of children do not go to school. We pray.

Greed and fear are behind so many decisions. We pray.

Political discord paralyzes our governments. We pray.

The desire for peace and justice is in so many human hearts. We pray.


Prayer – Meditation

Prayer for All of Humanity

I pray for all of humanity to one day feel the pulse of the Mother Earth in their feet as they tread. I pray for mankind to find the faith to believe in the messages carried by their dreams and to see beyond the visible world. I pray that everyone I come in contact with can walk away with much, or at least some, of the happiness that lives within me. I pray for peace, acceptance, and tolerance for all who express their love for the higher power (whatever that name may be). Most of all, I pray for an end to the violence and depravity that darkens many souls. Peace be with us all!



Prayer for Justice

Father, you have given all peoples one common origin.

It is your will that they be gathered together 

as one family in yourself.

Fill the hearts of mankind with the fire of your love

and with the desire to ensure justice for all.

By sharing the good things you give us,

may we secure an equality for all 

our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

May there be an end to division, strife and war.

May there be a dawning of a truly human society

built on love and peace.

We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord.