Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
July 19, 2020
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








Show favor, O Lord, to your servants
and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace,
that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,
they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Liturgy of the Word

First Reading (Wisdom 12:13,16-19)

There is no god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned. For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all. For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity. But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.

Responsorial Psalm (86:5-6,9-10,15-16) 

R/. Lord, you are good and forgiving.


You, O LORD, are good and forgiving,

abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.

Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer

and attend to the sound of my pleading. R. 

All the nations you have made shall come

and worship you, O LORD,

and glorify your name.

For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;

you alone are God. R. 

You, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious,

slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.

Turn toward me, and have pity on me;

give your strength to your servant. R. 

Second Reading (Rom 8:26-27)

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will.

Verse before the Gospel


Gospel [Mt. 13:24-30; Shorter Form] 

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.' 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.”'"

Catena Nova

All the farmer’s work naturally leads towards the harvest.   So how could Christ call a ‘harvest’ a work that was still in its initial stages?   Idolatry reigned over all the earth… Everywhere there was fornication, adultery, debauchery, greed, theft, wars…  The earth was filled with so many evils!   No seed had yet been sown there.  The thorns, thistles and weeds that covered the ground had not yet been pulled up.   The ground had not yet been ploughed, no furrow had yet been drawn. So how could Jesus say that the harvest was abundant? … The apostles were probably distressed and frustrated:  “How are we going to be able to say anything, to stand upright before so many people?   How can we, the Eleven, correct all the inhabitants of the earth?   Will we who are so ignorant be able to approach scholars;  will we who are so stripped of everything be able to meet armed men; will we who are subordinates be able to approach people in authority?   We know only one language – will we be able to argue with the barbarians who speak foreign languages?   Who will bear with us if they don’t even understand our language?” Jesus did not want such reasoning to discourage them.   So He called the Gospel a harvest.   It is as if He told them:  “Everything is prepared, all the preparations have been made.   I am sending you out to harvest the ripe grain.   You will be able to sow and reap on the same day.” When the farmer leaves his home to go out and gather the harvest, he is brimming over with joy and shining with happiness.   He thinks neither of the suffering nor the difficulties that he might encounter…  Christ says, lend me your tongue and you will see the ripe grain going into the king’s granaries.   And so He then sends them out, telling them: “I am with you always, until the end of the world.” (Mt 28:20) (St. John Chrysostom)

It is not only sheep who abide in the Church, nor do only clean birds fly there to and fro.  But amongst the grain other seed is sown, for “amidst the neat grain-fields, burrs and weeds and barren oats lord it in the land” (Virgil’s Georgics).   What is the farmhand to do?   Root up the darnel?   In that case the whole harvest is destroyed along with it! Every day the farmer diligently drives away the birds by making a noise or by frightening them with scarecrows (…)  Nevertheless he suffers from the raids of nimble roes or the wantonness of wild asses, on the one hand, voles convey the grain to their underground barns, on the other, ants in a moving column ravage the crop.   This is how things are!   No-one who has land is free from care. While the householder slept, the enemy sowed tares, when the servants hastened to go and root them up, the Master prevented them, reserving for Himself the separation of wheat and chaff. (…)  No one, before the Day of Judgement, can take Christ’s winnowing fan in hand, no-one can pass judgement on another, whoever they might be (St. Jerome).

See, my children, if we really wish to be saved we must determine, once for all, to labor in earnest for our salvation; our soul is like a garden in which the weeds are ever ready to choke the good plants and flowers that have been sown in it. If the gardener who has charge of this garden neglects it, if he is not continually using the spade and the hoe, the flowers and plants will soon disappear. Thus, my children, do the virtues with which God has been pleased to adorn our soul disappear under our vices if we neglect to cultivate them. As a vigilant gardener labours from morning till night to destroy the weeds in his garden, and to ornament it with flowers, so let us labor every day to extirpate the vices of our soul and to adorn it with virtues. See, my children, a gardener never lets the weeds take root, because he knows that then he would never be able to destroy them. Neither let us allow our vices to take root, or we shall not be able to conquer them (St. John Mary Vianney).

[In Romans 8] we find a further image deeply embedded within the created order itself: that of new birth. This passage has routinely been marginalized for centuries by exegetes and theologians who have tried to turn Romans into a book simply about how individual sinners get individually saved. But it is in fact one of the great climaxes of the letter and indeed of all Paul’s thought. In this passage Paul again uses the imagery of the Exodus from Egypt but this time in relation not to Jesus, nor even to ourselves, but to creation as a whole. Creation, he says (verse 21) is in slavery at the moment, like the children of Israel. God’s design was to rule creation in life-giving wisdom through his image-bearing human creatures. But this was always a promise for the future, a promise that one day the true human being, the image of God himself, God’s incarnate son, would come to lead the human race into their true identity. Meanwhile, the creation was subjected to futility, to transience and decay, until the time when God’s children are glorified, when what happened to Jesus at Easter happens to all Jesus’s people. This is where Romans 8 dovetails with 1 Corinthians 15. The whole creation, as he says in verse 19, is on tiptoe with expectation, longing for the day when God’s children are revealed, when their resurrection will herald its own new life.

Paul then uses the image of birth pangs — a well-known Jewish metaphor for the emergence of God’s new age — not only of the church in verse 23 and of the Spirit a couple of verses later but also here in verse 22 of creation itself. Once again this highlights both continuity and discontinuity. This is no smooth evolutionary transition, in which creation simply moves up another gear into a higher mode of life. This is traumatic, involving convulsions and contractions and the radical discontinuity in which mother and child are parted and become not one being but two. But neither is this a dualistic rejection of physicality as though, because the present creation is transient and full of decay and death, God must throw it away and start again from scratch. The very metaphor Paul chooses for this decisive moment in his argument shows that what he has in mind is not the unmaking of creation or simply its steady development but the drastic and dramatic birth of new creation from the womb of the old (N.T. Wright).

As I write, some politicians are being granted the headlines for engaging in inflammatory rhetoric, causing many others to react with furious denunciations of certain ethnic and religious groups. This gives us the mirroring effect where we mirror the inflammatory rhetoric some are giving out When we do that, the violent speakers mirror our violent rhetoric back to US. So we end up with an escalation to extremes, two extremes that look exactly alike. In all this, we can feel, with St. Paul, that “the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now.” (Rom. 8:22) Creation continues to groan and we with it. Unfortunately, some preachers seem to revel in such destruction, hailing it as ushering in God’s “kingdom,” but their frantic pointing all over the place is precisely what Jesus said is not the Kingdom. God is not in the fire of an empire’s implosion. God is not in the burning of the earth and fouling of the waters as described in Revelation. (Rev. 8:7-11) It is not possible for me to conceive of God wishing in any way for the unmaking of Creation. God was not in the fire or the earthquake when Elijah sat in the cave. God was instead heard as “a sound of sheer silence.” (1 Kings 19:12) It is in this sound of sheer silence that the Kingdom of God is among us, even in the tumult of a world going crazy with mimetic rivalry. What brings this space of sheer silence into the Kingdom? Simple acts of giving a cup of cold water to the least of God’s people, so that these acts can mirror each other in an escalation of giving. The Kingdom is present when we share desires constructively with one another and with God’s desire. In this respect, the Kingdom of God is a present reality, so far as we reach out to each other in solidarity rather than rivalry (Abbot Andrew Marr).

How would it be if instead of information about the end [the parable of the Wheat and the Tares] were rather a teaching about how to live in the here and now, in the time before the end? In that case, the function of the story is a little different. Instead of furnishing us with details of a judgment after death, it is rather an insistence on not exercising any type of judgement before death. When he says: “There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” let us not take it as a threat, but as: “Leave it for another to cause wailing and gnashing of teeth. Let it be there and not here. Do not you exercise any sort of judgement or separation between good and evil people now. In this way you will be building the kingdom of heaven.” It wouldn’t be a bad exercise to attempt a re-reading of other parables following this formula, and before the end of this book we will be doing something similar with the parable of the sheep and the goats. For now let this slight example suffice. But please note once again in what Jesus’ technique consists: it consists in introducing a little subversion from within into the normal imagination, so as to open out our horizons a little with respect to who God is and what are his ways (James Alison).

The field owner’s attitude is that of hope, grounded in the certainty, that evil does not have the first nor the last word. And it is thanks to this patient hope of God, that the same weed, which is the malicious heart with so many sins, in the end can become good grain. But be careful – evangelical patience is not indifference to evil, one must not confuse good and evil! In facing weeds in the world, the Lord’s disciple is called to imitate the patience of God, to nourish hope, with the support of indestructible trust, in the final victory of good, that is, of God (Pope Francis).


Let us Pray

            I don’t know how to pray. And neither do you. At least that’s what St. Paul says: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the selfsame Spirit intercedes with inexpressible groanings (II). I suppose those words are more relevant than ever as the pandemic rages on and prayers without end are offered for its victims and that it might soon end. But would Paul have us think such prayers are misguided, or worse, useless? Perhaps. And then again, perhaps not.

            To the first possibility, the Anglican Scripture scholar, N.T. Wright, offers a word of caution. In an essay published in Time early in the pandemic, he warned of certain assumptions – easy enough to make – that could color our prayer, as if we knew what God was up to in the pandemic. The essay’s title sounds the warning: “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It's Not Supposed To” (March 29, 2020).

            Calling to mind T. S. Elliot’s attitude toward trying to figure out God’s purposes during the Second World War, Wright says, “there are moments...when the only advice is to wait without hope, because we’d be hoping for the wrong thing?” Which is not to say we ought not hope for an end to the pandemic, but that be very careful “not to explain the trouble but to provide reassurance within it.” In other words, what the author of the Book of Wisdom prays today, saying to God, There is no god besides you who have the care of all...[and] you gave your children good ground for hope (I). As for Paul, I suggest we pray in hope with regard to the pandemic and place questions of meaning and purpose and outcomes on the weakness side of his teaching, for we do not know how to pray as we ought.

           But that’s not the end of the story. Wright goes on to comment on the rest of Paul’s teaching, about who is really doing the praying -- namely the Spirit of God. I daresay few Christians are mindful that to pray aright means to allow the Spirit to pray within us: for the Lord who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, interceding for the holy ones according to God’s will (II).

            And that inner praying consists, Paul says, of inexpressible groanings. Now much has been made of what that might mean and the usual comparison is to the pangs of childbirth. You recall last week how Paul told us all creation is groaning in labor pains awaiting its deliverance from corruption and that we also groan within ourselves awaiting the redemption of our bodies. It seems the Spirit acts as both mother and midwife in the process of bringing God’s plans for creation to birth.

            In his essay in Time, N.T. Wright adds yet another way to understand such groanings taking place “within the pain of the whole creation.” And that is to lament the suffering. In his words,

            "It is no part of the Christian vocation, then, to be able to explain what’s happening and     why. In fact, it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain—and to lament instead. As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small    shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell. And out of that there can   emerge new possibilities, new acts of kindness, new scientific understanding, new hope. New wisdom for our leaders?" (Now there’s a thought.)

            So whenever the Spirit prompts you to pray about the pandemic – or anything else for the matter – hope for what you pray, but be careful about asking for explanations. More often than not, such things are out of view. And don’t be afraid to lament when the field God sows with good seed becomes full of weeds. Such things tend to happen while everyone was asleep (G). And that is certainly the case with the pandemic. Despite the warnings, we slept. As many still do.

            In the end, however, the harvest is God’s to reap even if, at the moment, the wheat seems choked by the tares. But as Wisdom prayed, [You, God] show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved (I). Like those servants who wondered if the Sower had indeed sown good seed when the weeds appeared as well as the fruit. And the Master’s response? The growing season is not over for the Day is coming – hope for it -- when the wheat will all be gathered and the weeds will be bundled for burning. In the meantime, we groan and lament over an enemy who has done this (cf. G) even as we feed on the best of wheat, the Bread of life, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.       


Intercessions (Mary Grace Melcher)

For the church, the precious yeast in the dough of all humanity, that we may lighten and leaven the world by the witness of our love and fidelity to the Lord.

That God, whose might is the source of justice, may show His mastery over all things by raising up world leaders obedient to His just and perfect laws.

That we, who have grown up from good seed, yet have the enemy’s sowing growing up  alongside us, may patiently persevere in our good deeds until the harvest.

That the kingdom of heaven, which on earth looks small and unimportant like a tiny mustard seed, may shelter many souls in its branches of truth and peace.

 For all who are living through a period of distress and suffering, that the Holy Spirit might come to the aid of their weakness, interceding for them according to God’s will, obtaining grace and strength.

For our faithful departed ones, that God, who is merciful and gracious, abounding in kindness and fidelity, may forgive their sins and lift them up to the joy of His heavenly kingdom.

O God, patient and forbearing, you alone know fully the goodness of what you have made.  Strengthen our spirit when we are slow and temper our zeal when we are rash, that in your own good time you may produce in us a rich harvest from the seed you have sown and tended.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Offertory Hymn (George Croly, 1867)


Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art;
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

Hast Thou not bid me love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own, soul, heart and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross; there teach my heart to cling:

O let me seek Thee, and O let me find!

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

Lord’s Prayer

Before partaking of the Wheat of God, let us pray in the Spirit, as Jesus taught us....

Spiritual Communion (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)

Lord Jesus, we desire earnestly to experience your love as guests at the heavenly feast you have prepared for your children on earth in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. As were are not able on this day to be gathered at your Table, may we receive you into our hearts by faith, trusting the word of your promise, that "those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." Strengthen our faith, increase our love and hope; and after this life grant us a place at your heavenly table, where we shall eat of the eternal manna, and drink of the river of your pleasure forevermore. Hear us for your own Name's sake. Amen

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn


We plough the fields, and scatter
the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered
by God's almighty hand;
he sends the snow in winter,
the warmth to swell the grain,
the breezes and the sunshine,
and soft refreshing rain.

Refrain: All good gifts around us
are sent from heaven above,
then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
for all his love.

He only is the Maker
of all things near and far;
he paints the wayside flower,
he lights the evening star;
the winds and waves obey him,
by him the birds are fed;
much more to us, his children,
he gives our daily bread. (Refrain)

We thank thee, then, O Father,
for all things bright and good,
the seed time and the harvest,
our life, our health, and food;
no gifts have we to offer,
for all thy love imparts,
and, what thou most desirest,
our humble, thankful hearts. (Refrain)