Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
July 23, 2023
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. (RM)

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our
necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have
compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those
things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our
blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCW)

Almighty God, in Jesus Christ you opened for us a new and living way into your presence. Give us pure hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCW)

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….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)
The Lord has explained to us the parable he told. Consider what we choose to be in his field; consider what sort of people we are found to be at the harvest. The field, you see, which is the world, is the Church spread throughout the world. Let those who are wheat persevere until the harvest; let those who are weeds change themselves into wheat. This, you see, is the difference between people and real ears of wheat and real weeds, because with those things growing in a field whatever is wheat is wheat, and whatever are weeds are weeds. But in the Lord’s field, which is the Church, what used to be grain sometimes changes into weeds, and what used to be weeds sometimes changes into grain; and nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow….But thanks be to God, who will be pleased in due course to sort things out, and who cannot be mistaken…. Sometimes, though, people are considered by human estimation to be grain, and in fact they are weeds; and others are reckoned to be weeds, but in fact are really grain. (St. Augustine of Hippo)
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).

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).

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 [of birth pangs] 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).

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.” (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 read an article this week entitled "A 'Prayer for Vocations,' Or, how not to Arrange the Liturgical Chairs on the Deck of the Titanic" (Teresa Berger, Pray Tell, July 17, 2023).  It's about a bishop who has mandated a prayer to be said after Mass on Sundays to address the ever-growing priest shortage.  

Then there are the endless prayers for peace in Ukraine, in Israel-Palestine and in Sudan.  Pope Francis has been especially insistent having sponsored or encouraged a number of global prayer events, the next one being at the shrine of Mary in Fatima in August where he will lead a recitation of the rosary "to address the tragic war afflicting ‘martyred Ukraine,’ attacked by the Russian army, as well as the numerous forgotten conflicts around the world" (Andrea Tornielli, Vatican Dicastery for Communication).   And who can forget his many dramatic gestures imploring heaven for an end to the pandemic?  

To which we could add the endless needs mentioned in the "prayers of the faithful" we will offer in a few minutes, many of which seem intractable.  The list is endless.  As I assume are the personal intentions we bring week after week most of which go unanswered, to which heaven is seemingly deaf, or at least asleep at the switch.

On the prayer for vocations issue, one wag commented on the article with the following words: "Embedded in this piece of truth-telling is something that could be put a bit clearer: the seeming futility of these endless entreaties is likely due to the fact that the prayers have already been answered. Unacknowledged vocations are abundant….So this is really a manufactured crisis of discernment — or lack thereof."  Or in Paul's warning to the Romans, We do not know how to pray as we ought, (II).

Or do we?  After all, that's not all Paul says.  The apostle adds how the real issue in prayer is who is doing the praying, not the content of our prayer for the Spirit comes to the aid of our weaknessinterceding with inexpressible groanings…according to God's will (cf. II).

The metaphor, by the way, is about birth pangs — the ones we heard about last week, about all creation groaning in labor pains, awaiting the day when the futility we so often experience in the face of evils both large and small will be set free from slavery to corruption.  While in the meantime, even though we have the first fruits of the spirit, we also groan within ourselves. (Cf. Rom 8:18-21).

So the Holy Midwife is there to help along the birthing process.  The new creation and the new humanity haven't yet been born.  And all the suffering of this present time —  there's Paul again — are a sign to us that God isn't finished with the world or with us.  And the futility we can experience when we pray about things that only God can answer, well, that futility Paul says was not part of the original plan — not of creation's own accord — but whatever went wrong with it apparently from the start.  A ball got rolling in Eden, it seems or the Big Bang, if you prefer.

In the meantime, groaning is permissible.  I recall an essay in Time magazine by Anglican Scripture scholar N.T. Wright he wrote during the pandemic.  He suggested how those things that make us lament do so "within the pain of the whole creation" and we should be careful “not to explain the trouble but to provide reassurance within it.”  Indeed, he says, "It is no part of the Christian vocation…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.  (“Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It's Not Supposed To”; March 29, 2020).

So whenever the Spirit prompts you to pray — and that's the real "know-how" of praying — by all means, hope for what you pray.  After all, Wisdom reminds us, There is no god besides you who have the care of all...[and] you gave your children good ground for hope (I).  But be careful about asking for reasons why things have gone so apparently wrong.  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).  As was the case with the virus, with Putin, and the church.  There were plenty of warnings, but we slept.  As many still do.

            In the end, though, the harvest is God’s to reap even if, at the moment, the wheat seems so often choked by tares. Yet as Wisdom also 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 (Joe Miner; The Sunday Website)

For the church: that we may allow the good seed of the Gospel to take root within us and bring forth a harvest of virtue and manifestations of the reign of God.
For openness of mind and heart: that the parables of Jesus may help us recognize the limits of our vision and understanding, and move us toward examining our life and actions from new perspectives.
For patience: that we may not judge one another but rather be open to the work that God is doing within each of us that will be revealed in God’s time.
For a deepening of prayer: that we may offer our discontent, pain, and yearnings to God honestly and allow the Spirit to intercede for us.
For Wisdom: that we may recognize the small ways God is at work in our lives so that we may cooperate with God who accomplishes great things
For healing and transformation of our weaknesses: that the Spirit of God will work within us to bring us to wholeness in the areas in which we are most wounded and vulnerable.
For all who are bound by hatred and resentment: that the Spirit will cultivate forgiveness and compassion within hearts and wither the seeds of the Evil One that yield revenge, violence, and destruction.
For all who have suffered abuse or who are in abusive relationships: that the Spirit will translate their cries and tears into prayers and lead them to safety and wholeness.

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. (ICEL; 1998)

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.

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)