July 20, 2014 – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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“He spoke to them another parable.
‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.’”

I don’t know about you… but mostly when Jesus talks in parables, I’m all “What the what?!?”  I cannot understand the gist. The context.  The deep thought.  The moral compass.  The platform.  The lesson.   It’s too crazy complicated with its many possibilities of meaning and understanding.  (Head explodes)

It’s kinda like that scene in Finding Nemo where Squirt the Turtle gives a very technical explanation to Marlin the Clown Fish on the proper “exiting technique.”  Marlin says “It’s like he’s speaking to me, I just know it.  – Look, you’re really cute, but I can’t understand what you’re saying.  Say the first thing again.”

(I know – ye loyal readers who have read my previous posts – that I have already quoted Nemo in my last reflection.  I can’t help it. It’s a completely amazing movie with parallels to life too many to name and quotes too awesome to not quote… so I hope you’ll forgive me.)

Like Marlin, I kept thinking “Say the first thing again…”  It’s hard to understand this week’s readings when you ingest them whole or – as in Mass, in small, very-distracted-by-your-pew-neighbor tidbits.  You get to the end and think  “What did one thing have to do with the other?   Why did we talk about the spirit, groaning, justice, weeds, wheat, hellfire, mustard and bread?  Great… now I’m hungry.”

I don’t know how you interpret this week’s readings, but at face value I thought of the Gospel reading as “oh yeah… I totally know some weeds in my life.  I am just growing here in my life – doing my best – but there are these people who are keeping a good girl down.  The weeds.  And… I GUESS It’s my cross to hang out with them and hope that by my stainless example, they can magically transform from weed into fruitful vine by a term I made up called Transweederation. Until then… weeds are my life. (sigh – cue fake martyr hand-to-forehead)”

Then I said to myself “Er, um, no Joia… not even close.  That couldn’t possibly be it.”  So, when I read more into this reading and looked for its true meaning, something occurred to me.  There are many times in all of the readings where the meaning of scripture is questioned, interpreted and lauded as truth, when we are not qualified to do so. And I know this because the readings say so:

In Wisdom:  “… when the perfection of your power is disbelieved…”

In Psalms:  “Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading.”

In Romans:  “… but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.”

In Matthew:  “His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

We are thoroughly confused by the Gospels, the readings, and the storytelling.  And we are so often thoroughly confused as to what God wants of us through His Word and Jesus’ lessons for lives lived in imitation of Him.

But we, as a society, have to have its “sacrificial lamb.”  We need a target – an individual to blame the sin – the evil, disease, debauchery and violence – on.  We need to look at someone else and say “There is evil in that person and that person should be stripped of honor and title and reputation and their Costco membership.”  We need justice for the wrong done in this world… when what needs to be fixed, constructed and healed, lies within our selves.

We are all good seeds and we are all weeds.  We are children of God living a world not made for the beauty of who we really are.  And, as such, we do not see the enemy come in, sow lies, deceit and destruction in our lives and stand back, waiting for us to interpret God’s love for us through the very filthy lens of those things.  Instead, we allow them to grow alongside us and through us and in some circumstances, we begin to ignore their consequences.  We see ourselves as free from fault, looking at others’ faults instead and use those faults to justify our increasing unhappiness.

You see, a parable – at its very meaning – is merely a comparison of an earthly explanation to a heavenly meaning.

The gist of what Jesus is saying in his uber-confusing parable is this:

There.
Are weeds.
In all of us.
And the only way.
To salvation.
Is keeping the faith.
Begging for a little Holy Spirit.
And tending our own garden.
(cf. CCC 827)
When it comes to the end of time, when the last star has burned out and the time of retribution is at hand, will our weeds – our sins – outnumber our fruitfulness?  Will we be so focused on other “weeds” that we have neglected our own garden?

I pray that through today’s readings and the potent medicine that is the Gospel regularly ingested into your heart and your soul, you will see and profess and witness as the famous theologian/philosopher/author G.K. Chesterton did when a newspaper posed the question “What is wrong with the world?”  He simply replied:

‘Dear Sirs:
I am.
Sincerely Yours, G. K. Chesterton.’
“I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.”

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