July 29, 2011
Give It All
After listening to some of Jesus' parables for a couple of weeks, we now return to the narrative part of the Gospel According to Matthew.
This section begins with Jesus being rejected by the people of his own town (13: 53-58). Then the story of the death of John the Baptist follows.
Jesus knows too well what awaits him. But "his heart was moved with pity for" the crowds and he would not abandon them
The disciples must have been exhausted by the size of the crowd. It is not quite clear whether in retrieving to the deserted place, Jesus wants to take his disciples away from the danger for the time being or to give them some rest.
Nevertheless, the disciples have had enough of the crowd.
Jesus would give his beloved his own life. Therefore, he can demand his disciples, no matter how tired they are, "Give them some food yourselves."
He is asking the same of me now!
July 23, 2011
By Chance of On Purpose
The verb "to find" can refer to the act of coming across something by chance or the act of looking for something with an intention.
In the two parallel parables of the treasure buried in the field and the pearl of great price, the second parable seems to suggest the use of the first meaning of "to find." The verb "to search" that Jesus uses in the second parable clearly indicates a sense of purpose.
It is true that the Kingdom of God is first and foremost a gift from God's unbounded love and generosity (think of the parable of the sower and the way he sows the seed). Nevertheless, we should not take it for granted.
The two characters in these parables operate with a clear sense of purpose, both while they are looking for the treasure or the pearl, and even more clearly so afterward. In both cases, Jesus emphasizes that the man "goes and sells all that he has" to buy what he has been searching for.
And what if we take these two characters as the figure of God? Doesn't God go out and search for each one of us with a clear sense of purpose? Doesn't God give up everything, including the only Son Jesus, for even just one lost sheep? (Matthew 18:12) And God does not stop his search until all have been found, as in Matthew 22, Jesus tells the parable of the king who sends his servants out to invite all people to his son's wedding banquet).
God for sure has a purpose in searching for me.
I did not come to know God and God's love by chance.
Do I look for God and the Kingdom of God with a sense of purpose?
July 16, 2011
It's the Small Thing
Jesus continues his teaching of the Kingdom of God through parables. The Kingdom of God, enormous as it is, began on earth with these teachings. In fact, it began with one person, Jesus Christ.
And so it continues even until today.
The tiny mustard seed can grow into an eight to twelve foot tall bush, large enough for the birds of the sky to dwell in.
A small amount of yeast is enough to leaven three measures of wheat flour, an amount up to fifty pounds of flour. With that much flour, there would be enough bread for over a hundred people .
It all begins small.
Yet, it matters if it is the good seed or the bad seed, the good yeast or the bad yeast.
The Kingdom of God begins with the good seed that the man sows in his field. The enemy does the same in trying to destroy it. He sows weeds.
What kind of seed do I sow? What kind of yeast do I use? Hopefully, it is the good seed of God's Kingdom, the good yeast of Christ's love.
 Daniel J. Harrington, SJ. The Gospel of Matthew, Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 205.
July 9, 2011
What kind of soil am I?
Last Sunday, we listened to Jesus giving praise to the Father for revealing Himself to the little ones, and not the wise and learned. That passage comes at the end of chapter 11 in Matthew.
Chapter 12 finds the Pharisees debating with Jesus over his teaching. These wise and learned people have a hard time accepting Jesus' words because they accuse him of breaking their understanding of the Sabbath law. They even try to discredit Jesus and the divine power in him by saying that he uses the power of Beelzebul to drive out demons. Consequently, they fail to recognize the presence of the Reign of God in their midst.
Matthew now continues his account of Jesus in Chapter 13 with Jesus returning to teaching "the crowd."
In this context, it is rather obvious that the emphasis of today's parable is the reception of the seed of God's word. Any hearer can be a path, some rocky ground, a thorny patch of land, or rich soil.
The farmer sows the seed of God's word generously and without discrimination. A farmer who is wise and experienced, by human standard, would never just through the seed around everywhere. But that is not how God sows the seed of His word.
It is up to the soil to hear, understand, and bear fruit.
And it is the little ones trusting in God who overcome tribulation and persecution. It is the little ones, without worldly anxiety and the lures of riches, who yield the greatest harvest.
July 2, 2011
Who Am I?
"Who am I?" That is one of the key questions that humanity for generations have been asking. Philosophers, thinkers, humanists, religious leaders ... have tried to come up with various answers.
For the people of faith, the answer is rather obvious in this Gospel passage.
We would never have an adequate answer to that foundational question on our own. In fact, it is not just a matter of answering a question or having a philosophical debate. On our own, outside of our relationship with God, we would be nobody.
If we are willing to accept it, we are the little ones. But not just any little ones. We are the little ones chosen by the "Lord of heaven and earth"
In fact, throughout the history of salvation, God has always shown his love to the little ones. The little ones are God's favorite.
However, when Jesus came to bring God's salvation to its fulfillment, the Son of God revealed to us that we are more than God's favorite. We are God's children.
The Lord of heaven and earth is our Father. The Lord of heaven and earth has chosen us to be His favorite sons and daughters.
There, God's gracious will.
And in the love of such a loving Father we belong. There, we exist. There, the answer for the question, "Who am I?"