Continued from the home page
Within the closing lines of the First Reading from the Book of Wisdom is the statement “…you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.” These words are addressed to God. The Book of Wisdom gains its name because it speaks of the excellence of Wisdom, how to obtain it, and the joyous fruits wisdom produces. Although the author is somewhat uncertain, it is often attributed to Solomon. In addition to its acknowledgment of the value of wisdom, the book contains many prophecies of the coming of Christ, His passion, His resurrection, and other mysteries of our faith.
The word “hope” appears more than 130 times in most recognized Catholic Bible translations. In most cases what is translated as “hope” is originally the word elpis (ἐλπίς) in Greek. This is significant because in today’s world we tend to use “hope” as sort of an unsure optimism. We may want or expect something (we hope for it) but there is no real assurance that it will happen. However elpis meant an expectation. It was a confident expression of a certainty. It was a trust and a belief that something would indeed occur. Therefore, when we say “My hope is in the Lord,” that is not a dream; it is a reality.
The First Reading from Wisdom speaks of God’s love, His compassion and mercy. It is in effect another reason for hope to be alive in our hearts, the kind of hope that is indeed certain of fulfillment.
In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, our Second Reading, Paul also gives assurance to us as to why we must have hope. We have indicated previously that Paul’s letter to the Romans is the longest of his letters. It is in many ways more theological than other letters. When Paul wrote it, he had never been in Rome, but his intent was to go there (which he did) and the letter was a preparation for that visit. He wanted to be sure the Romans understood what our faith was all about, and what he believed and professed.
Today’s reading is not lengthy, but it, as is the case with much of Paul’s writings, is filled with meaning for us. In fact, it is closely connected to the concept of hope once again. Throughout the Letter to the Romans Paul speaks of and explains salvation, the exact salvation in which we place our hope. In today’s short passage we might perceive correctly that prayer should be an important part of our sense of stewardship and of our daily lives.
Paul assures us nonetheless that the important thing for us to do is to pray; God takes it from there. No matter how effectively or eloquently we pray, in doing it the Holy Spirit can see into our hearts and perceive our needs. (“...the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.”) The key for us is to pray, and trust that God can see our prayers. It is from that we can also achieve hope.
For a few weeks now our Gospels from St. Matthew have been filled with parables. Jesus was living in an agrarian society — that is, a world in which agriculture was somewhat universal and widely understood. That is why so many of His teachings, His parables, have a farming base. His parables in today’s Gospel relate to weeds existing next to and among healthy and necessary crops like wheat. Even though much of our own society may not grasp farming, we can very much relate to the Lord’s explanations.
When asked by His disciples to explain the meaning, the Lord says in effect that the field in which the crops are placed is the world; the crop can come from good seeds (believers) or bad seeds (those who are non believers and evil). He also makes it clear though that it is not our role to identify and “weed out” those who are non believers. God will do that. At the same time it is not just enough for us to belong to a parish, a community. Our role, our calling, is to love and to serve as good stewards, active participants. God will take care of the rest, and that is our reason for hope.
Filed Under: Homily Guides, Stewardship Reflections on Lectionary Readings by Catholic Stewardship Consultants, Inc.
THE MERCY, POWER, AND LOVE OF GOD
The first reading today, from the book of Wisdom, makes its point over and over, at least five times in five verses! God is mighty, but lenient to all. God's power is shown in kindness and clemency, not in harshness and condemnation, and those who govern God's people must govern in the same way, with kindness. This loving kindness and gentleness is not contrary to God's might, but is a direct result of God's primacy over all. Who are we, then, to judge what is in the hearts of our fellow Christians and all people, when God commands justice with love and clemency?
Likewise, the Holy Spirit makes up for our ignorance of what we need, speaking in a language we do not yet understand. But God knows our needs before we do, understands the intercessions of the Spirit, and helps us in our weakness. This is our hope: God's mercy, power, and love.
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Estas son las semanas de las parábolas, y aunque ya las hemos escuchado muchas veces, nunca pierden su frescura, por siempre, si ponemos atención, podemos percibir un ángulo diferente.
La parábola del trigo y la cizaña, muy sencilla en apariencia, es muy desconcertante para los discípulos que tienen que preguntar a Jesús que se las explique. En nuestros jardines, procuramos quitar la cizaña o yerba durante todo el tiempo que crezca. Pero en la parábola, la cizaña y el trigo crecen juntos hasta el tiempo de la cosecha. Si las personas buenas y las malas permanecen mezcladas durante la vida, también nos desconcierta algunas veces: ¿por qué las personas hacen cosas malas y no son castigadas? ¿Cómo es que Dios permite que cosas malas pasen a las buenas personas?
ESAS PEQUEÑAS COSAS
Nuestro Dios es en efecto un Dios poderoso; sin embargo, no es vengativo, sino misericordioso. A cada uno se le ofrece la oportunidad, muchas oportunidades, para ser perdonado. Aún una pequeña buena acción puede florecer en algo maravilloso. La semilla de mostaza del Medio Oriente es tan pequeña que una persona difícilmente puede agarrarla con los dedos. (Aquellas personas que conocen el programa de formación catequética del Buen Pastor conocen esta parábola maravillosa, y el pequeño plato que contiene algunas de estas semillas y que se guarda en el atrio para que los niños las puedan contemplar). La levadura hace que la masa fermente y crezca para hornear deliciosos panes. Todas estas maravillas tienen un origen muy pequeño, si es que estamos listos para escuchar y entender estos misterios.
También nuestra oración Dios la escucha, aun cuando nosotros no entendamos por lo que estamos rezando: "pero nosotros no sabemos pedir lo que nos conviene; pero el Espíritu mismo intercede por nosotros con gemidos que no pueden expresarse con palabras. Y Dios, que conoce profundamente los corazones sabe lo que el Espíritu quiere decir" (Romanos 8:26-27). Así que, si nuestras pequeñas oraciones son ofrecidas con un sincero corazón, son escuchadas por Dios, aun si no siempre sabemos lo que estamos haciendo cuando oramos. ¿Estamos alabando, glorificando a Dios, pidiendo algo? El Espíritu lo sabe e intercede por nosotros.
Lecturas de hoy: Sab 12:13, 16-19; Sal 86 (85): 5-6, 9-10, 15-16; Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43 [24-30]
Copyright (c) J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.
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