YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: The Kingdom is Growing Gradually
BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie
HOMILY: Wisd 12:13.16-19; Psalm 86:5-10.15-16; Rom 8:26-27; Matt 13:24-43.
- One of the central lessons of this Sunday’s readings is that the kingdom of God undergoes growth. It is not an already finished entity. It is still growing from maturity to maturity. This means a lot for our understanding of the Christian life and the Christian faith. Our life is on the part of gradual transformation. It does not happen in an instance. It takes time. It involves pain. The faith is gradually understood and practiced. The God we worship is a fellow traveller with us. He moves with us along the rocky terrains and bumpy roads. We stumble, we fall, we get up, we fall again, we rise and the journey continues. The important thing is that He moves along with us and understands our weakness.
The Gospel text from Matt 13:24-43 continues the parabolic discourses of Jesus. This time around we are presented with three significant parables of the kingdom. These are called parables of the kingdom because they explain in simple ways the nature of God’s kingdom which is the reign of God in our midst. The first is the parable of the wheat and the darnel, which shows how the children of the kingdom grow through trials and temptations in the midst of an evil world. The lesson here is that despite the presence of evil in the world, God is still in control, and God’s children are still protected. It is interesting that both the good seed and the bad seed are all thriving on the same soil and competing for prominence, but the joyful thing is that at the harvest time no form of evil will be left in the kingdom. The second parable is that of the mustard seed, which shows how the kingdom grows gradually from an almost insignificant state to a sprawling structure. The lesson here is that patience is needed in the journey of faith as the religious life matures through different stages of growth. The Christian life is not a finished product. It passes through stages of immaturity, infidelity, sin, myriads of falls and discouragements until it reaches maturity. The third parable is that of the yeast and the flour. Just as the yeast makes the flour to expand, the kingdom is an inner force that transforms gradually everything that comes into contact with it. The lesson is that spiritual transformation is an ongoing phenomenon. This gives hope and encouragement in a world full of evil and forces of discouragement.
The first reading from the Book of Wisdom 12:13,16-19 helps us to understand the nature of the God behind this gradual and mysterious growth of the kingdom. He is an all powerful ruler, with an immeasurable sovereignty, but He still governs all things with great leniency. He does not brandish His power to terrorize His subjects despite their provocations. As the Psalmist says, He is meek, compassionate and very slow to anger. He allows us to err again and again, and He allows us to come back again and again to ask for forgiveness which He always grants.
The second reading from Romans 8:26-27 continues along the line by affirming how weak we are as creatures, but God does not abandon us in our weakness. His Spirit accompanies us in every moment, and even takes up the battle for us when we are too weak to forge ahead and to fight on. All these are meant to encourage us that we have really nothing to fear as long as we have surrendered our lives to God. It is good to note that God does not always remove sufferings from our lives, but He helps us to grow to maturity through such sufferings and pains.
These messages touch diverse chords in our complex modes of living. Sometimes, we think that God is for us only when we are measuring up. But He is telling us that He never abandons us even in our weakness. Sometimes we think that the Church is only for saints, while sinners are damned already, but God is telling us that the Church is a Church of both presumed saints and sinners, and together we are marching towards perfection. Sometimes, we think that our own group is the exclusive group of the elect and the redeemed, but God is telling us, and in very clear terms, that the kingdom is still growing, meaning that we are not yet the finished kingdom. At the end of the day, the fully grown kingdom will embrace people from all corners and from all cultures. There is hope for everyone as long as we are still on the way to perfection. Unfortunately, many of us are very intolerant and often think that God has already passed a sentence of exclusion on some we despise. Many others move with a holier-than-thou attitude that makes it difficult for them to accept and love those other brothers and sisters they regard as sinners, even though they are fellow travellers through the same vale of tears. But God is telling us today that we like the mustard seed are still growing with the kingdom. Many may appear insignificant now, but the future holds great promises of sumptuous transformation and greatness.
May the God who always helps us in our weaknesses continue to accompany us as we keep marching and striving through present joys and pains towards the final transformation and final victory!
Fr. Luke Ijezie