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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Jer 13:1-11): The Lord said to me: Go buy yourself a linen loincloth; wear it on your loins, but do not put it in water. I bought the loincloth, as the Lord commanded, and put it on. A second time the word of the Lord came to me thus: Take the loincloth which you bought and are wearing, and go now to the Parath; there hide it in a cleft of the rock. Obedient to the Lord's command, I went to the Parath and buried the loincloth.

After a long interval, the Lord said to me: Go now to the Parath and fetch the loincloth which I told you to hide there. Again I went to the Parath, sought out and took the loincloth from the place where I had hid it. But it was rotted, good for nothing! Then the message came to me from the Lord; thus says the Lord: So also I will allow the pride of Judah to rot, the great pride of Jerusalem. This wicked people who refuse to obey my words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts, and follow strange gods to serve and adore them, shall be like this loincloth which is good for nothing. For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man's loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the Lord; to be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty. But they did not listen.
Responsorial Psalm: Deut 32
R/. You have forgotten God who gave you birth.
You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you. You forgot the God who gave you birth. When the Lord saw this, he was filled with loathing and anger toward his sons and daughters.

«I will hide my face from them», he said, «and see what will then become of them. What a fickle race they are, sons with no loyalty in them!».

«Since they have provoked me with their “no-god” and angered me with their vain idols, I will provoke them with a “no-people”; with a foolish nation I will anger them».
Versicle before the Gospel (Jas 1:18): Alleluia. The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 13,31-35): Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”

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.” All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.

«He spoke to them only in parables»

Fr. Josep Mª MANRESA Lamarca (Valldoreix, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel shows us Jesus preaching to his disciples. He does so in the form of parables, as is His custom, using simple everyday images to explain the great hidden mysteries of His Kingdom. In this way he could be understood by everyone from the most highly educated to the simplest of individuals.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed” (Mt 13:31). The mustard seed is so tiny it is almost invisible, but if we take good care of it and water it properly... it ends up becoming a large tree. “The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour (...)” (Mt 13:33). The yeast is invisible, but if it weren't present the dough would not rise. Such is the way of the Christian life, the life of grace: you don't see it externally; it doesn't make a sound, but… if one lets it enter in one's heart, divine grace nourishes the seed and converts people from sinners to saints.

We get this divine grace through faith, through prayer, through the sacraments, through love. But this life of grace is, above all, a gift that we must wait and hope for, that we must desire with humility. A gift which the wise and learned of this world do not know how to appreciate, but that Our Lord God wants to transmit to the humble and modest.

It would be great if, when He looks for us, he won’t finds us in the group of the proud, but amongst the humble, the ones who recognize themselves as weak and sinners, but very grateful and trustful in the goodness of the Lord. This way the mustard seed will grow into a large tree, the yeast of the Word of God will bring about for us the fruit of eternal life because “the more the heart is lowered in humility, the higher it is raised to perfection” (Saint Augustine).