16th Sunday – Year A


Wheat, Seed, Leaven by Bishop Barron

  • 3 marvelous & rich parables in today’s Gospel, inexhaustible in meaning.
  • (1) Wheat & Weeds – the principle = some goods would simply not exist unless paired with certain types of evil. In a higher world like heaven this principle will not hold, but here below it is simply the case. Examples: going to kindergarten or college – placed in a totally alienated environment – nervousness anxiety tension – deeper maturity, experience and ultimately joy would not be possible apart from the suffering. “Without the cruelty of the tyrant, we would not have the patience of the martyr” ~ Aquinas. Like it or not, weeds and wheat grow up together in this world.
  • (2) Mustard Seed – the principle = great things comes from small beginnings in God’s providence. mighty things come in God’s providence from small beginnings. Examples: the lives of the saints. St. Francis. Humble beginning. St. Benedict. Mother Teresa. Tip = sow the seed which has been given to you to grow – let God worry about what will come about it.
  • (3) Yeast – like the previous one of the mustard seed. Kingdom of Heaven is God’s way of ordering things. Things will get ordered in a certain way. In time it will come to effect the whole of society. One bit of yeast will give rise to whole loaf of bread – don’t worry about accomplishing great things – live right now in line with the kingdom and let God in His providence to bring it to the fullest expression.


Biblical Commentaries:

1st Reading – Wisdom 12:13, 16-19

Book of Wisdom introduction

In our first reading today the sacred author speaks of God’s merciful discipline of sinners.


2nd Reading – Romans 8:26-27

Today we continue with Saint Paul’s description of the future glory that awaits those who live the Christian life empowered by the Spirit.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.



Gospel – Matthew 13:24-43

Our reading today takes over from where last week’s reading ended. Recall that Jesus had just begun teaching in parables and that last week we heard the Parable of the Sower. Today we hear the Parables of the Weeds Among the Wheat, the Mustard Seed, and the Leaven.

The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat

24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’

The weed is commonly recognized as darnel, a weed that has resemblance to wheat.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

The mustard seed is not the smallest of all seeds, nor does it become the largest of plants. When full grown, it becomes a shrub some ten to twelve feet in height. The point of this parable is the contrast in sizes: The kingdom which starts from near invisibility will shift quickly to its full grandeur with its universal, all embracing hospitality

Mustard Seed Homily

  • mustard seed’s DNA cannot change.
  • mustard seed’s thrive in polluted areas.
  • mustard seed’s greatest power lies exactly in its weakness. Only when it breaks open in the darkness of the earth can it become a great tree.

The Parable of the Yeast

33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

A small amount of yeast causes the much larger loaf to rise. Likewise, there is a surprising effect that a small movement can have on all society. God’s plan works almost invisibly to bring about its purposes. Yeast (leaven) in the Jewish tradition often had a symbolic meaning of evil. Here, Jesus uses it as a symbol of the power of God. It is possible to see God present and active in everything if we just look at them in wonder.

The Use of Parables

34 Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. 35 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth to speak in parables;

I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”

Jesus Explains the Parable of the Weeds

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

The Church is not entirely a community of the elect; it has unfaithful members as well. God will tolerate such members in the Church just as He tolerates them in the world at large; but the judgment will determine the final destiny of the righteous and the wicked and will purify the kingdom entirely. The lesson is patient tolerance of the presence of the wicked in the community. God and His angels will sort them out in the end. This doesn’t mean that nothing can be done about the evil in our midst, because weeds left unchecked can choke out the wheat. The Church needs constant reformation and positive action, including the quest for holiness, but it must avoid unrealistic purism – what is needed is that elusive thing called balance. “No one is so useless that they can’t be used as a bad example.”

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