LECTIO DIVINA: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Mt. 13:24 – 43
A. Invoking the Holy Spirit.
We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of St. Augustine.
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believes in Christ is sanctified to become a citizen of the City of God! (en. Ps. 45:8) Come, Holy Spirit, grant that we receive the motions of God, put in us your flame, enlighten us and raise us up to God. (s. 128,4) Amen.
With hearts well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
24 He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. 26 When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. 27 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? 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 He replied , ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. 30 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.”
31 He proposed another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. 32 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.’”
33 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.”
34 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, 35 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.” 36 Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, 38 the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Just as weeds are collected and burned 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 who cause others to sin and all evildoers. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” +
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to Matthew.
“Now it is sown, what is sown grows, and then comes the harvest. But the enemy sowed over the seed of darnel, and the bad has grown among the good, the false Christians who look like the weeds but do not bear the same fruit. The darnel is properly called weed that as it sprouts, it looks like the wheat, like the cumin, the oats, and other plants that have the first leaf completely similar. That is why the Lord, on speaking of the first sowing of the darnel, said: An enemy came and sowed over the darnel; when the weed grew and the fruit appeared, then also appeared the darnel; therefore, the enemy came and sowed over the darnel; but, what did he do to the wheat? No, the wheat was not suffocated by the darnel; better still, on tolerating the darnel, he allowed the wheat to grow. The Lord himself said to some laborers who wanted to pull out the darnel: Let both grow until the harvest, lest upon pulling out the darnel you will also pull out the wheat; but when harvest time comes, I will tell the harvesters: gather first the darnel and tie them up in bundles to burn, and the wheat put them into the barn. This is the end of the year, the harvest of the world. You will crown the year with blessings from your goodness. On hearing “the crown” it means for us the glory of the victory. Conquer the devil and you will have the crown. You will crown the year with blessings of your goodness. Once again the goodness of God is brought out, so that no one may glory in his own merits” (en. Ps. 64, 16).
On the parable of the yeast put into the mass, St. Augustine comments: “If you worthily receive (the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ), if you keep away from the ferment of false doctrine, in such a way that you become the leaven bread of sincerity and truth; or if you conserve that ferment of charity which the woman hides in the three measures of flour until the whole mass is fermented. This woman is the Wisdom of God, who appeared in mortal flesh thanks to a Virgin, who sows the Gospel in the whole orb of the earth, the orb that, restored after the deluge beginning with Noah’s three sons, as if they were the three measures just mentioned, until the whole measure is fermented. This is the ‘totality’ that in Greek is translated “holon”, where you are if you keep the chain of peace “according to the totality” which in the Greek receives the name “cat’holon” from which comes the name “catholic” (s. 228B, 5 = s. Denis, 3, 5).
With the text, let us now pray from the depths of our heart. I suggest the following phrases and questions that can awaken in you dialogue with God, and at the same time can give rise to affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not move to the next phrase or question if you can still continue dialoguing with God in one of them. It is not a matter of exhausting the list, but of helping you to pray with some points that better fit your personal experience.
a. “When it started to turn green and the ear to form, the darnel also appeared” (Mt. 13:26).
- Why is the bad present with the good?
- How do you confront evil in your own life and in the community?
b. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast: a woman mixes it with three measures of flour” (Mt. 13:33).
- From your point of view, why is the kingdom of heaven like the yeast?
- What are the signs that the kingdom of God flourishes in your life?
c. Pray with the phrase: “Put into my heart the yeast of charity” (s. 222B, 5).
I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again, you need not follow all of it, rather you can choose what fits your personal experience.
a. Contemplate your own heart. Be conscious that in it the mustard seed is growing. Contemplate its smallness and fragility, but also its capacity to grow. Contemplate that once planted in your heart, it slowly and silently grows. Contemplate how it becomes a bush where birds of heaven build nests. Contemplate and ask God for strength that the seed of the Gospel may grow in you.
b. Contemplate your heart and feel in it the yeast of charity. Contemplate how in your interior you also have the yeast of sin, and that it is necessary to destroy the old yeast (1 Cor. 5, 7), in order that the yeast of the kingdom of heaven, the yeast of love, may truly bear fruit. Contemplate and ask for strength from God to grant that it be the yeast of love to fill you and transform you.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially in allowing the seed of the kingdom, the yeast of charity, to grow in you. The following points can help you as guide to share with your community the experience of the lectio divina on the text..
- What have I discovered about God and about myself in this moment of prayer?
- How can I apply this text of Scripture at this moment of my life? What light does it give me? What challenges does it put before me?
- What concrete commitment does this text of Scripture ask of me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What has been my dominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
Final Prayer of St. Augustine.
Turning towards the Lord: Lord God, Father Almighty, with pure heart, as far as our littleness permits, allow us to give you our most devoted and sincere thanks, begging with all our strength from your particular goodness, that you deign to hear our petitions according to your good will, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that you increase our faith, govern our mind, and give us spiritual thoughts and bring us to your happiness through your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with you lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).
“Among the presbyters there is wheat and there is darnel; and among the people there is wheat and there is darnel. Let the good tolerate the bad; let the bad change and imitate the good” (s. 73, 4).