Friday, July 15, 2011

Increasing in Holiness - Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reflections on the Readings
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 17, 2011 - Year A
By Dennis S. Hankins

Increasing in Holiness

And the servants of the householder came and said to him, "Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?" He said to them, "An enemy has done this."

Everyone is familiar with this phrase: If it swims like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck - It must be a duck! That seems obvious enough. In the Parable of the Weeds things are not so obvious. The weeds sown among the good wheat seed were not so noticeable at first. It was a poisonous weed that resembles wheat in the early growing time. Jesus explains that the enemy that sows the weeds is the devil. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. - 2 Corinthians 11:14-15

The unique nature of the wheat is seen at maturity. And thus does Jesus teach the unique destiny of the good seed - "But gather the wheat into my barn," He says. And at the close of the age, all causes of sin and all evil doers will his angels gather out of his kingdom and they will inherit the furnace of fire. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. - Matthew 13:30, 41-43

In each of the parables today, the uniqueness of Christ's kingdom is revealed. And what stands out about Christ's kingdom in the life of the Church is that great power of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to save and to sanctify sinners. The truth sown in our hearts by the Son of Man is greater and stronger than every deception and delusion that Satan may throw in our way. From the Church we learn what it is that God has done for the children of Adam. It cannot be said enough - Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!

What awesome love it is that reaches out to you and to me to help us grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ. There is a patient urgency we encounter in our life in the Spirit. The grain of mustard seed and the leaven hidden in fifty pounds of wheat flour remind us of the potency and tenacity of our salvation. As we pray, the Spirit comes to our assistance. When we do not know how to pray as we ought, the Spirit himself intercedes through us. With inexpressible groanings we embrace the urgency of the task: We pray that God's Church grow like a mustard seed into that welcoming bush where everyone will find forgiveness and rest in its shade.

Everyone who comes through the doors of the Church needs to encounter the kindness of God. That happens when the power of the faith is strong in the local community called the Church. The great power of the sacraments of the Church lift us to a higher life, a greater burden of prayer, and to be the face of that holy kindness of which there is no counterfeit. Today there are any number of folks who want to increase in holiness and in that love that is greater than all sin. There is no other god who has such care for all.

Just a little bit of God's love goes a long way. Start somewhere and let the miracle of grace grow in you. Sow some of it in the lives of those who look up to you. Drop little seeds of hope, faith, and love in words that are lifting and loving. Do some little thing that says something about your love and your gratitude. Ours is a fractured world in need of great healing. And if things go better with Coke, how much better is it when we have the zeal of the Spirit and do the smallest things with great love. For the simplest of efforts is great if the love of God is in it. Because little is much when God is in it!

As we eat this bread and drink this wine, we receive the body and blood of Jesus. May his life makes us true wheat and bring the work he has begun in us to holy perfection. Come and let us increase in that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Amen.

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