Sixteenth Sunday of the Year Wisdom 12: 13 & 16-19; Romans 8: 26-27; Matthew 13: 24-43
“There is no god, other than You, who cares for everything…. You govern us with great lenience. By acting thus you have taught a lesson to your people, how the virtuous man must be kindly to his fellow men. You have given your children the good hope that after sin you will grant repentance.”
The Book of Wisdom, precisely because it was written in Greek rather than Hebrew, reveals a great deal about the location and circumstances of its origins. Almost certainly it came from one of the many Jewish communities scattered throughout the Graeco-Roman world. They lived as strangers in a culture radically different from that of their homeland.
In many ways, this is the experience of the practising Christian in an increasingly secular society. Here gospel values are marginalised, and frequently dismissed as irrelevant. This was certainly the experience of those scattered Jewish communities throughout the eastern Mediterranean world. They were marginalised and frequently persecuted.
Today’s passage from the Book of Wisdom is all the more remarkable because it does not call upon God to redress the misfortunes of their displacement. Instead the passage concentrated on God’s forbearance in the face of their own past failings, rejoicing in a judgment that was always ready to forgive. Likewise our own Christian lives are to be measured by an unfettered willingness to forgive.
The parable of the sower gives assurance to those who fear that they cannot forgive as Jesus forgave. We can draw hope from the fact that the seed of forgiveness, and indeed every other virtue, comes not from ourselves, but from the Lord who is the source and strength of all goodness.
In the early chapters of his Letters to the Romans, St Paul humbly acknowledged his inability either to know or live by the will of God. He also came to know that God does not abandon us to an inevitable disillusionment both with ourselves and the world in which we live.
“The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness… for when we cannot pray, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God, who knows everything in our hearts, knows that the prayers of the faithful, expressed by the Spirit, are according to the mind of God.”
May we live our lives in humble surrender to the gentle presence of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us.