Homily :: July 23, 2017
07/23/17: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
07/23/17: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr Dave Reeson
(4:41, 4.30 MB)
07/23/17: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr Pat Nields
(5:17, 4.84 MB)
If one is prone to thinking about the final judgement, it can be tempting, after hearing the today’s first two readings and psalm, to emit a thankful sigh. Who can help but be relieved by hearing that their judge is “lenient to all,” “judge[s] with clemency,” and is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.” How much more grateful should we be, then, to discover that our judge is also our defense; God, the Spirit, is our advocate, bolstering our prayers. It appears that the odds are in our favor. The parable of the harvest, however, complicates things. Despite the mercy of our judge, there are still those “weeds” that will be punished.
The point of this parable is, at least, twofold. First, we must trust in God, believing that God seeks our salvation. We must repent and seek reconciliation, and accept that we are, ultimately, incapable of saving ourselves. We need the assistance that God readily provides. Second, however, we must also accept that it is God, and not ourselves, who is the final judge. It is frequently tempting to assume this role in our communities. But the parable of the harvest promotes tolerance: we are not equipped to distinguish between the weeds and the wheat, nor would we be able to remove the weeds without damage. We are, instead, to trust in God’s justice, lenient as it is. After all, it is solely on God’s merciful judgment that we rely for our own salvation.
Debate often swirls around the miracle in today’s Gospel: was it miraculous that Jesus was able to multiply five loaves and two fish, or that Jesus was able to convince a crowd of strangers to share their food. To become embroiled in this debate, however, is to miss the real point of the parables. Jesus’ teaching and miracles point towards the coming of the Reign of God. Through description and action Jesus articulates what God’s kingdom will look like.
Jesus’ instruction, “bring them here to me,” echoes the invitation in Isaiah: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk.” Everyone, regardless of status, is called to the feeding. Since the miracles foreshadow the Kingdom of God we can also say, echoing Romans 8, that since nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ,” everyone is called to the eternal banquet.
This reality is made more clear by the parallel between the feeding of the five thousand and the Last Supper: Jesus takes the bread, looks up to heaven, says the blessing, breaks the bread, and gives it to the disciples. This description also fits our eucharistic liturgy. If we are to accept the Church’s description of the Eucharist provided in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, that it is taking “part in a foretaste of [the] heavenly liturgy” (SC, 8), then the relationship between today’s miracle and the Reign of God is made abundantly clear.
By Dave Pitt © 2003, OCP. All rights reserved