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Gospel reflection

July 23, 2023: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel: Matthew 13:24-43

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’

“He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ And his slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, ‘First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’

He proposed another parable to them. “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.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parables of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”


If there is a virtue I sorely lack it is most certainly patience! In the first parable in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us a lesson about God’s patience. We are quick to want to sort the weeds from the wheat. Jesus counsels patience. Left alone, the weeds will ruin the wheat, but all will be well in God’s time.

It is not for us to do the sorting. The task belongs to our just and loving God. The two following “minute parables” remind us that something quite small has the potential to have a great impact. The small act of pulling up a weed may destroy the wheat as well.

Small acts – both good and bad – can have big consequences. And once again, Jesus invites us to “listen again” with his admonition that those who have ears ought to hear, reminding us to take the parables to heart, to practice patience, and to trust in God.


What small thing can I do this coming week that will have a positive impact on the world around me? When my patience is running low, I will remember the parable and say a quick prayer in thanksgiving for our patient and loving God.

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Nancy Olson

A native of Champaign, Ill., Nancy Olson became a Providence Associate with the Sisters of Providence in 2018.

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