God's Mercy is Everlasting

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

Fr. Jim homily

5 minute read


Wis. 12:13, 16-19; Ps. 86; Rom. 8:26-27; Mt. 13:24-43

The Book of Wisdom shows that the One True God does not have to justify or prove his justice. It says, “For your might is the source of justice…But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency…And you taught your people…that those who are just must be kind.” The mighty deeds of God are known to us all, beginning with Creation itself, and extending throughout Salvation History as the Lord entrusted dominion of the earth to man, commanding us to be fertile and multiply. He invited men and women to grow the human family by giving them a share in his own creation. He endowed us with special gifts and talents that our works may give him glory. When his people were lost to slavery in Egypt, he delivered them; when his people went astray and were lost to idolatry, he sent prophets to call them back—he gave us good ground for hope that he would permit repentance for sins. Ultimately, in these last days, he sent his only begotten Son that all who believe in him might not perish, but might have eternal life. This was the hope of the people of Israel, as we heard in the Book of Wisdom, and it is our reality today, as we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Jesus Christ is the source of our salvation, and part of that saving grace is the forgiveness of sins. It is the very nature of God to be merciful. If God is love, as St. John ascribes, then the manifestation of that love is mercy (See 1 Jn. 4:8). We know that none of us is deserving of such mercy, yet God gives his mercy freely to those who ask. This is further evidence that there is no god besides our God who has the care of all. What god would grant such leniency as to send his only Son to set the record straight? Yet, that is what God has done for us.

That God has gone to such lengths to redeem each of us is cause enough for our conversion, but have we gone all-in for God as Jesus has gone all-in for us? St. Paul reminds us that the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness. What is this weakness but our own desires getting in the way of our love for God? How often have we been tempted to spend time on frivolous things rather than talking to God? What if we spent just twenty minutes a day reading Scripture instead of wasting time in front of the television? What if we spent just fifteen minutes a day reading spiritual authors instead of wasting time on our mobile devices? I ask this question of myself, too. We ought not allow our bodies to dictate to our minds what is best, rather, it should be the mind which governs the body. That is why St. Paul says, “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” The Spirit guides our hearts and minds so we may master the flesh.

And after a lifetime of working to master the flesh, we are met with what Jesus describes in today’s gospel: the kingdom of heaven. His many examples of the kingdom show that there is are no limits in heaven. Just as the mustard seed starts out small but grows into a large bush, or microscopic yeast in a batch of dough makes the dough expand, heaven continues to grow to accommodate more and more souls. In other words, there is plenty of room for all who work towards being there. The work is necessary because, as the parable of the wheat and the weeds show us, the good plants must grow alongside the weeds. The good plants are likened to the children of God, while the weeds are likened to the children of the Devil. The children of God live their lives according to virtue, that is, they seek to master their flesh so that they may live more fully for God. The children of the Devil, on the other hand, are masters of vice, giving in to every temptation, wasting themselves and those around them. Jesus teaches how to defeat this behavior in his Sermon on the Mount. He says, if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. In other words, stop doing what is sinful, stop looking at it, touching it, or walking towards it. Stop letting the flesh dictate our behavior, rather, listen to voice of Jesus, be converted in heart and mind, and turn towards God. When we do so, we shine like the sun.

And so, as we continue to turn towards God in our celebration of the Eucharist, may the communion we share today strengthen our resolve to keep our hearts and minds fixed intently on the Lord—his life, his teaching, his love, his sacrifice—so that our participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar may make us ever more faithful servants, who bear the fruit of virtue and good works and shine like the sun.

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