Discernment is an exceptional quality or gift. It is needed by those who manage, lead, and administer. Today, however, we are reminded that the believer is also to seek it. In the Gospel, the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ, teaches us about the evil in the world. He uses the parable of the tares among the wheat to make this point. He uses wheat to refer to the good people in the world and tares to refer to the evil people in the world. The farmer who originally sowed only good seeds on his field and wanted to destroy the tares before the harvest so that they would not spoil his wheat would have damaged the wheat’s growth quite a bit.
The lesson to be learned from this parable is considerable. The Lord Jesus wanted to tell His apostles that when they saw so much evil in the world, not to be disgusted, for they might do even more evil by their attitude. Let them not judge the wicked. Let them realize that the tares will always remain tares, the wheat-only wheat. The wicked always have a chance to better themselves, and the goodness of others may be tried to earn a greater reward.
This parable reminds us of how the Lord Jesus behaved toward those who had fallen. The Lord Jesus received even Nicodemus with the most incredible patience and understanding. Eventually, Nicodemus became a disciple of the Lord. We may also mention here the public sinner Mary Magdalene. Everyone wanted to stone her because she was caught in the act of adultery. No one brought to the Lord the man with whom she had committed evil. The Lord Jesus saw their meanness. He did not condemn her. He rewarded her sincere conversion and love by making her a great saint. He appeared to her first after His resurrection, and she convinced even the apostles that the Lord had “really” risen.
Likewise, Matthew the Apostle. He was initially a tax collector, whom everyone liked to despise because he was very invasive of people. After meeting Jesus and acknowledging his guilt, he made restitution to all those he had wronged. He eventually became an apostle and evangelist. The Lord Jesus rejected only those who did not want to acknowledge their guilt and those who thought themselves righteous and despised others. It is sure from the parable that the Lord Jesus is the Judge and no one else. Judging others in the sight of God is at least as foolish as plucking tares from among the wheat. The Lord Jesus tells us: “Let both grow until the harvest” (Matt. 13:30). Therefore, leave even the judgment to the Lord, who will surely come and judge the living and the dead.
The Lord Jesus also calls us to act Christians towards evil. In everyday life we often hear the remark, “Why does the Lord Jesus suffer evil? Does He not see that while the evil are well treated, the good suffer?” In the first place, we must consider well, when we speak in this way, whether we ourselves are pure wheat. Do we not want to justify our own evil by these excuses? Furthermore, it should be clear that as good Christians, we should not despise or judge anyone. We know that only the Lord is the fairest Judge. We often exaggerate the faults of others, while the Lord knows all and is infinitely forgiving. We may not like to give someone else a second chance to better themselves, but we certainly expect the Lord to provide us with multiple options, so we do not perish. Indeed, when we dare to criticize someone, how often must the Lord warn us: “Why sees thou the mote in thy brother’s eye, and in thine own eye thou sees not the mote?” (Lk 6:41).
St. Paul advises us to be patient with evil, as the Lord is patient with us. When we forestall evil with patience, we find that we enlist the help of God. As good Christians, we can in no way condone the evil of the one who perpetrates it. We must accept him as a brother in need of help, which we show not by condemning him, but by being patient with him, by setting an example of good Christian living, and especially by praying for him. Let us know that the Lord despises only the sinner who does not want to improve himself.
There are indeed many tares among the wheat in the world. But if we reflect a little more honestly on the situation, we must admit that there is some good and some bad in ourselves, some wheat and some tares. And so, when we ask the Lord to be merciful and gracious to us, let us add to those we think are tares. So let us leave the judgment to the Lord, who bids us, “Let both grow until the harvest” (Matt. 13:30). There, the good of the good and the evil of the evil will be revealed.
Let us ask the Lord that we may find grace with Him and be able to be the good wheat in which the tares will not take hold.
Jesus told the crowds another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows, it is larger than other herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” Another parable he told them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman takes and mixes into three measures of flour until all is leavened.” Jesus spoke all this to the crowds in parables. He told them nothing without a parable so that what the prophet foretold might be fulfilled, “I will open my mouth in parables, I will declare things which have been hidden from the foundation of the world.”
A proper understanding and approach to contrasts can be beneficial. In architecture, we see white tastefully matched with black, and not just on houses of mourning. The age difference between siblings is not a barrier; on the contrary, when a mother says of her sons, one of whom is grown and the other learning to walk, that they are like little and big friends, one can sense the love and harmony. In contrast, one can sense strength and courage, life and beauty.
We sense something similar in the words of the Gospel – in the parable of the mustard seed and the leaven. In these parables, the contrast between the tiny beginning and the great result at the end is expressed. The grain of mustard seed is one of the smallest, and likewise with a piece of leaven, we get a great result. The mustard seed grows into a gnarled tree, and a bit of leaven turns the flour into the dough.
These words of the Lord Jesus are a picture of the kingdom of God, which begins unobtrusively and in a small group of people but reaches great proportions and amazing power. The Evangelist Matthew is not only thinking of the glorious revelation of the kingdom of God at the end of the world, but he is probably thinking of Christianity in general, which will slowly spread throughout the world. We know Christianity began in Palestine’s small province of the Roman Empire. At its beginning, we see a small group of twelve disciples gathering around Jesus of Nazareth, who outwardly was no different from any other simple man, over a period of three years. After all, he was born in a stranger’s stable and died a criminal on a cross. His life’s journey from Bethlehem to Jerusalem lasted only 33 years. And if we didn’t see the power in that today, which Jesus taught, we wouldn’t even understand the reason for his words in the Gospel.
This small community, mustard seed, and leaven have today grown into a mossy tree and fermented the whole world. There is not a nation, a race, or a language group where they have not known the fruit of the teachings of the Lord Jesus. History gives truth to this contrast, and so the words of Christ are fulfilled, “… the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18). And let us remember this because even today, we hear voices that this teaching, this personality, is meaningless.
Therefore, we may ask: Is this so? Is what the Lord Jesus brought worthlessness?
He has revealed to us the mystery of God, who is the beginning and the end of all that exists, of animate and inanimate nature, and of spiritual life. He introduced us to His Father and to our Father. He brought the doctrine of equality, which was unknown before the birth of the Lord Jesus. His teachings became the basis for cultural, economic, and scientific change in humanity. New and new people began to build and build upon his teachings at a faster pace, with a different approach. We are witnessing that the 21st century has not diminished the value of man’s relationship with God; on the contrary, solid research tells of growing faith in God, not among the ranks of ordinary people but especially among the personalities who are rewarded by the world with the world’s highest honors. This has been the case, is the case, and will be the case in the future.
The teaching of Jesus is a message of glad tidings that will sweep the world and triumph over sin. No violence, no persecution, no scientific worldview will prevent the fulfillment of Christ’s words, for he who knows just a little of the history of the law of logic and takes note of his own life cannot help sighing: how good it is that I am already dying, that it will be over at last. Man, after all, longs to live and to live forever. This was also the Creator’s first thought: His supreme workman should live forever. God endowed man with reason and free will, and this led man to fall and to misfortune. But the coming of the Lord Jesus into the world has lifted the veil, and man can have hope again.
However, the Gospel must not be understood as a mere quantity, a plurality. We also feel a qualitative obligation. To live qualitatively. To give to God what belongs to him. Remember to keep the day holy. We are in this world to know the Lord God, to love him, to serve him, and to be saved one day: for we also feel the admonition, “Not everyone who says to me: Lord, Lord, … “Lord, I say, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but only he who does the will of my Father” (Mt. 7:21).
History has also brought many lessons for us. Many have failed, but only to their detriment – Judas, one of the Twelve. In the past, some early Christians failed under the threat of death. And that is both a lesson and a warning for us. Let us learn from contrasts and realize that they can enrich us.
It’s Saturday morning. We get in the car. Ahead of us is almost a hundred kilometers of road through mountains and valleys. We go in search of the forsaken who live without faith. How will they receive us? Will they recognize us? It has been decades since they have gone far from the faithful. How do they live? They live across the street from each other. Just four steps from the door. The man still has a wife. The children have long since left home. We knock, but no one answers. Behind the door, we hear a faint slam. We open the door. There is silence. We open the other. It’s a bedroom. Two beds, a picture on the wall that says: When you go across the water, I’ll be with you. We go in. In the kitchen stands the crouched, skeletal figure of a woman. Her back is turned, she can’t see us, she can’t hear us, she doesn’t answer our greeting. I touch her shoulder, she turns around. Her eyes are wide open, and she has a single question:
– What do you want here?
– We are looking for you.
– I don’t know you, – she answers.
– But I know you from the photograph.
She is very old in body and spirit. There is pain and moaning. There is only groaning and despair. All trust in God has spilled out of her mind like grain from a leaky sack. The two think only of which of them will die first. We wanted to weep over such a wealth of misery. We go away sad with one prayer, “Lord, do not let us be separated from you.” (Source, Living Words 1/1987, p. 4).
All week we have been listening to the parable of the sower. Although he sowed everywhere and in abundance, not everything took hold and produced the same harvest. It often turns out as it did with those we have just imagined. They were full of energy, full of faith, full of love, but also full of hope. They didn’t care about religion and allowed it to be trampled by their own disinterest. Perhaps their faith had been snatched from them by others. Perhaps. The parable of the tares is like a continuation of this week’s Gospel.
The great field sown with good wheat is the Church of Christ. From the beginning, it has been a Church of sinners and saints. Into the sea of paganism, the disciples of Christ sowed the Word of God. It sprouted and grew, but it did not destroy the tares. On the contrary, the tares constantly threaten to choke out the good sowing. Therefore, in the days when Christianity had power, zealous men arose who determined to destroy the tares, but the result was not the best. The field was damaged.
That’s why Jesus wisely says: “Wait! God is the Lord of time.”
The kingdom of God is something entirely different from a wheat field. Jesus is talking about patience and the great goodness of God toward people. Always a new and fresh chance, an opportunity. And that’s why we had a better look within ourselves, each one of us. For that flax, that field of good wheat is also every human soul. Although we are delighted and quick to see the tares in the other, we want to be honest with ourselves and look at the field of our own soul. How many good words and well-meaning advice have we heard, how many warnings and admonitions have been addressed to us. And this means that not only the purest, best wheat grows in the field of our own soul. It also means that man can improve himself. He has the opportunity to remove the tares from his soul himself and replace them with good ears. That is why Jesus recommends patience. He allows everyone time. Our time is our whole life. When the harvest comes, the final end will come, and there will be nothing that can be fixed or changed. There will only be sorting into God’s barn or the fire.
If we feel our soul is a good role, our fellow men should feel it too. We should be good reading for the other so that he may safely govern himself. If we feel that we are good wheat in the Church on God’s significant role, then we should also feel our duty to be encouraged by others, perhaps those nearest to us, to be full and have good ears.
Years ago many girls chose a religious life. Many of them are sincere about their vocation, even though today they live outside the convents. One of them has an old grandfather who, he claimed, because of the scandal of some priest, had not been to confession or church since his marriage. Neither old age nor illness has drawn him to God. He always justified his conscience to the aforementioned priest. But this grandfather also had another image – his niece, who visited him now and then. And so, slowly but surely, the grandfather changed, and in the end, he had only one condition. “I will put myself in order, but not with my home priest, for I am ashamed.” When he was called by the priest he had first seen, his first words were probably these, “I was not intimidated by anyone, but provoked by the life of my niece. Why shouldn’t I also belong to the Lord God when she – young and educated – belongs to Him.”
Here is beautifully shown the patience of God, who gives man each new day as a unique chance and opportunity to be good wheat on the significant role of the Church.
Let us try to apply this Gospel, not to the other, but to ourselves, for though we do not want to be selfish, that we want salvation only for ourselves, yet we should care first for our own salvation, and then, surely by our example, by our life, we shall also help others who may be waiting for our example and help.
The disciples’ plea to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1), is appropriate.
Prayer must not become merely a Christian habit or duty. In that case, there is a danger that prayer will be regarded as a duty – and nothing more. In childhood, we were taught all sorts of good things, like greeting our elders, brushing our teeth, etc.; even though we did not enjoy it or care about it, we did it when they looked out for us. Prayer must not be one of those things and events we do out of compulsion, command, or just because someone is watching us do it. So it happens that with the end of childhood, we stop praying.
It is not enough to engage in prayer only when we are learning to enter into the mystery of God’s love, but prayer requires that in every time, age and circumstance, we realize that it is an act of love. We know that if direct personal contact between people ceases if we have nothing to say to each other, the love between us is disrupted and even extinguished. Prayer is a conversation between God and us. God in His love is always willing to talk with us. What is more, God speaks to us even when we break off the conversation, have no desire to talk to him about, bypass him, are deaf to his calls, addresses, intercessions… We must realize that prayer comes from the need within us. Man can only pray when he realizes that there is someone who surpasses us in all that is good and beautiful, who outgrows us. One can pray when one realizes one is never alone in any situation. Gandhi was not wrong when he wrote: “Prayer is more necessary for the soul than food for the body. The body can fast, but not the soul.”
We know the circumstances under which one of Jesus’ disciples requested: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). The disciples not only saw Jesus do this, but they witnessed that Jesus often walked away from them. They saw him praying; more often than not, Jesus prayed all night. They saw that Jesus prayed differently than the pious Jews. Jesus did not use ritualistic forms of prayer. His prayer was quite different, so it is no wonder that they asked Jesus to teach them to pray this way. And Jesus seemed to be waiting for this request. Jesus wants to share what he is full of. It is the love of God the Father. The very first word, “Father,” which we can understand as the key to the Lord Jesus’ prayer, is also the key to understanding the mystery of Jesus. For Jesus, the Father was “Abba,” that is, like our address, “Daddy, Papa, Papa,” which expresses the most personal contact with the loving One, where there are no barriers, no inhibitions, where there is the most intimate contact of love. The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word. And we don’t take it into English, but we express it with our “Father.” To whom do we say “Father”? When a child experiences a father’s love, even when he becomes a father years later, he has the most beautiful relationship with his father, which can be expressed by saying that “a father is just a father.” Jesus, though He was always God, though He took on the nature of man, has the most personal relationship with God the Father. The Lord Jesus is in constant contact with God the Father. Recall the moment when the disciples returned from their missionary journey; the Lord Jesus groaned in the Holy Spirit and said: “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to the little ones” (Lk 10:21). No one addresses and addresses God so familiarly before Jesus as he does. And consider, Jesus desires that we also address God our Father with such love. Then, when we fulfill this request of the Lord Jesus, it is not possible that prayer will become difficult, uncomfortable, or that we will procrastinate.
We know from the history of the enemies of the Church that they have made many attacks to remove prayer from the hearts of men. Is it possible to remove and ban love from the conversations of those who love each other and themselves?
Think back to your student years. If we had a teacher whom we liked, who impressed us with his love, that he not only taught the subject but loved it, which could be seen and felt, did we not look forward to his classes? Even though it was a difficult subject, we had no fear, we didn’t skip classes we spent more time studying, all because that teacher was someone, it could be felt that he was “Mr. Teacher”.
And what did the apostles see and experience? And what are we to do and should we do today, to go back, to teach when Jesus speaks to us too: “When you pray, say…” (Lk 11:2n.). Jesus knew that He would return to the Father; he knew that He would ask the Father for the Holy Spirit for us so that in the Holy Spirit, we would know, want, and be able to address the Father as “Our Father”. Therefore, we need to be more aware that when we are brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus, we are also sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father. In such a case, the first word “Father” – the address in the prayer we call the most beautiful because the Lord Jesus Himself taught it to us, is appropriate. We are aware that we must not only be disciples of the Lord Jesus, that is, be with Jesus only on an intellectual level, but we must and want to be the closest ones, and therefore we have the right to this address, and we must not forget this address. Today, it is a direct challenge to each of us; to return to such prayer,
in which we will be in direct contact with God. It is not enough, it must not be enough, and we must not settle for something chronic, learned, done out of fear, but lived with love.
It is right when we pray with the heart, renounce our “I,” and pronounce “thou”. It is beautiful to realize that I am saying “you” to God and not “you.” This level of contact speaks of a love we should not forget. In the same way, it is right that we realize and do not pray only for ourselves. We do not say my bread but our bread, and we do not say forgive me my sins but forgive us our sins, just as we do not say lead me not into temptation but not into temptation.
We will understand this by example:
Two Buddhist monks met. One was elegant, fine, cleanly dressed, the other was returning from a construction site, covered in mortar. The sleek man says, “You look like a pig!” The further replies, “I see a child of God in you.” “How is it possible that, after my insult, you look at me like that?” He received this reply, “He who carries an animal in himself sees the animal in others; he who carries God in himself sees him in everyone.”
St. P. Maximilian Kolbe. He stained his vestments with mortar as he built and came to Cardinal Sapiens at the Archbishopric. His secretary refused to let him in, so filthy and drove him out shouting. At the cry, the cardinal came out. When he saw Father Maximilian, he knelt before him and asked for his blessing while the young secretary disappeared unnoticed. (Great Jubilee, August 1998, pp. 50-51)
Prayer for others and example must not be absent from our lives. We see this in the Old Testament narrative when Abraham asks God not to punish Sodom and Gomorrah, even though their sin was very significant (cf. Gen. 18:20-32). The Lord Jesus teaches us to do the same. Prayer for others must not be absent from our lives. Such a prayer is “Feri ultra”. It cleanses and removes the filth, the sin, from among us.
It is beautiful and suitable when Christian mothers teach their children to pray. But prayer must not become a rote poem. Then it would be a repetition of what many struggles with today, that they just recite something and yet do not feel God’s love for them and their love for God. We don’t want to be among those who pray only occasionally, sometimes. We don’t want to know God only when we have to ask, but in our lives, we also want to thank God, forgive God, adore God, and praise God. This is what today’s Eucharistic celebration is meant to serve us when at the beginning of the celebration, at the priest’s invitation, “Brothers and sisters, let us confess our sins so that we may celebrate the Holy Mysteries with a pure heart,” we are reminded of the invitation, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (Lk 11:1).
In the material realm, it is a matter of course when we buy an item, whether electrical or another precious object, that we also get the necessary interpretation for it, which we call the User’s Manual. Whoever wants the thing he has bought to serve him and to give him pleasure reads the instructions carefully. However, many do not see such an obvious procedure in the area of faith. That is why we see many churches treating, for example, the words of the Lord Jesus, particularly strangely. They interpret the text of the Holy Scriptures, each according to his own.
The words of the Lord Jesus are often difficult for the hearers to understand. The parable of the sower and the seeds, too, is difficult, which is why the Lord Jesus Himself gives an interpretation of the parable. The Evangelist Matthew, who recorded these words of the Lord Jesus, knew for himself the power and value of the words of Christ. …a single encounter and the tax collector becomes an apostle. Indeed within himself, Matthew must have struggled much. With this parable, he wanted to express a warning to the very first Christians to accept the words of the Lord Jesus willingly. In the fate of the grains that left the sower’s hand, we are to see in the parable-allegory the fate of the message of the Lord Jesus in four types of people. The scale begins from those who “hear the word of the kingdom and do not understand it” to those who “hear the word and understand it.” In between, there are two more groups.
The first group is the non-understanders.
It represents the person who does not think about what he hears and that he should put these words into practice. Therefore, the Lord Jesus says: “The Evil One is coming and will take hold of what has been sown in his heart” (Mt. 13:19).
The second group is fickle.
To this group belongs the person who is quick to draw near Jesus and gets excited at the first opportunity. However, when the first difficulties arise, he abandons Christ. The Lord Jesus explains this action by saying, “With whom it was sown in the rocky ground is he who hears the word and receives it gladly at once, but it has no root in him; he is momentary. He immediately falls away when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word” (Mt. 13:20).
The third group is calculating.
This group represents the person who wants only to do well on both sides: with God and with men. This means sitting on two stools. And the practice of life teaches that this group often succumbs to material concerns, which become closer to them than spiritual ones, and therefore interest in God is stifled in them. The Lord Jesus explained this group by saying, “With whom it is sown in thorns, he it is who hears the word; but worldly cares and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it remains unprofitable” (Matt. 13:22).
The fourth group is faithful.
It is the positive group that represents the good ground. These are the people genuinely committed to bringing something of value in life. They put into practice what their convictions impose upon them. They know how to remain faithful in joy and tribulation alike.
The Lord Jesus explains, “And with whom the good ground has been sown, it is he who hears the word and understands it, and it brings forth a harvest: one hundredfold, another sixty-fold, and another sixty fold, and another thirty-fold” (Mt. 13:23).
Inadvertently, the question arises: To which group do I belong? We have heard, read, and seen much about the Lord Jesus. Surely you remember the beautiful experiences of meeting Him when we were directly touched by His love. Perhaps we even made promises, resolutions, and plans to reform and change our lives… But for how long, how well did we accomplish it? What happened to our solutions? Does it also apply to us that we heard but did not understand? And yet, today, we realize again that the one who builds his thoughts and actions, his daily and ordinary life on the words of the Lord Jesus, shows that he has understood the interpretation from today’s Gospel given by the Lord Jesus himself.
It is not too late if we begin again now. We bear the consequences of original sin and can only overcome them in the closest union with Christ. No amount of halfheartedness, sitting on two stools, and superficiality will produce a harvest that will enrich, delight, and secure a worthy goal. Slowly the harvest is coming to an end. The granaries are filling. We are beginning to take stock. Today we know who did the right thing months ago, and it has paid off. And vice versa. So it is with our spiritual harvest. For we do not know the day or the hour. The important thing is to make good use of this one we live through. And it calls us to Christ-related activity.
Precious objects need an Instruction Manual and a Letter of Guarantee. Our faith requires an interpretation of the teachings of the Church that will convey to us the teachings of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, we accept her words.
Recently I had the opportunity to meet a man – a computer expert. Many an owner can spend hours in front of a computer. However, this expert can do small miracles with the computer to help people gain time and money. I did not understand many things, so he answered my questions with various explanations and similes.
Even the Lord Jesus, when He wanted to explain something essential and important to the apostles, often used parables. Therefore, the apostles once asked him about this matter, and he answered them: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it is not given…” (Mt. 13:11).
These words of the Lord Jesus also need explanation. We may therefore ask: What decides in this matter? On the one hand, it is the gift of God and, on the other hand, sincerity, and willingness to accept the Word of God. This means that where this will is lacking, the “mystery” of the kingdom of God will not be opened to man. That is why the Lord Jesus says that where this willingness is absent, the man looks and does not see, listens, and does not understand.
In this way, we can also understand the broad masses of people who listen to the teachings of the Lord Jesus but do not understand them, and this is only because they can only look at everything with material eyes, or they look at Jesus only as the Messiah – the politician who would restore the kingdom of God on earth.
It was a difficult time for the Jews. A nation occupied but also mismanaged and misguided as the scribes and Pharisees, who usurped the key to lead the nation, distorted the mission of the awaited Messiah. The prophet likened their actions to this, saying, Their heart was turned to fatness. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus comes, and there is such an unfavorable situation for important truths of His teaching, He uses various similes, and images, and yet the essence of the mystery of God remains hidden from the hearers. But the Lord Jesus, when He is alone with His disciples, explains to them the nature and meaning of the mysteries of faith. Before the disciples, the Lord Jesus speaks openly and often returns to the things these apostles will one day have to spread and teach after his ascension. That is why he often criticizes them for speaking openly, and they do not understand.
Just think of how many sounds, images, and sensations over the course of a day impact our senses. So often, we may find ourselves in danger of merely looking but not seeing, of listening and yet not understanding.
To give just one analogy: it is the season of holidays and vacations. Imagine just one car journey of a few hours. What we experience in that time! When we see the police in front of us, a thought flashes: What was the sign a moment ago? What happened? Maybe that forty saw it and missed it. Perhaps he was in a hurry and crossed the entire line with one wheel… He saw, and yet it was as if he didn’t see.
Or another example: you’re worried. Someone says something to you, and you respond that well. After a while, you’re willing to argue that you didn’t hear it. Why? The person was preoccupied with something else, heard a word from another, but in the back of his mind was attending to his problem.
Let us return to the spiritual. Let us ask ourselves: Are we still willing to hear what the Lord Jesus came to tell us in the Gospel? Are our eyes still open to the grand horizons of God’s plans that lead man and the world to eternal happiness? How open are we to the Word of God that we hear at Mass? Do we listen to it, or do we just register it? This is what we have to be aware of today and not be content with just being physically present, but our presence must be active. In the words of the Lord Jesus, “But blessed are your eyes that see, and your ears that hear” (Mt 13:16).
Let us desire to be happy, that is, to truly experience the encounter with the Lord Jesus. Let superficiality and passivity be removed from us by our action, for we would not be disciples of the Lord Jesus, but a crowd at Christ’s side, who hear but do not understand; who see and yet do not comprehend. In modern times, one cannot do without parables. Indeed, I read in a recent article that we should express ourselves in myths, even in everyday speech. It will enrich our spiritual life.
The Lord Jesus shows us the way to true greatness: whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant. He has shown us and illuminated this path by His example. He did not come to be served but to serve. He served by his teaching, by his works of mercy, by his consolation, by his help, by his counsel – and above all, by shedding his blood to the last drop for humanity; he serves us even now on the altar, sacrificing himself to us and for us, awaiting every call. Thanks to his attitude of a servant, service has become an honor; to serve means: to follow the Son of God. And service is every work, every fulfillment of the duties of one’s state, sacrificially following the example of Christ who gives his life for many. The sacrifice measures a man’s greatness we make in the service of our ideals and our fellow men, also giving our lives, if not “for” many – then “for” many.
St. Emeram, a native of Poitier’s, France, worked on himself this way. He became a missionary. The Duke of Regensburg in Bavaria asked him to help bring the people of that region to God. Emeran was successful. After a time, he wanted to report his work to the Pope in Rome. As soon as he left, something terrible happened. Theodore’s daughter Uta could no longer hide her relationship with the judge’s son. Out of fear of her father, she blamed Bishop Emeram. She thought he was far away, and eventually, as long as the bishop returned, things would be settled. She had not anticipated that her brother would go to see the bishop with his entourage. They caught up with him near Munich. The mercenaries blinded the bishop, cut off his hands and feet, and left him as he was. The guides took the bishop, still alive, to the church where he died. Uta’s falsity came to light. The duke banished his son and daughter and had the dead body of the bishop brought to Rezno, where he is buried.
Similarly, St. Maurice deserves our respect, admiration, and imitation; as a soldier with his comrades, he writes a letter saying that they are Christians and are willing to go into the stiffest battle, but they will not offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Nevertheless, every tenth man was executed.
We know even less about Jonah, the martyr, but what he learned from the missionary St. Dionysius he invested correctly. He did not hesitate when it came to die for Christ.
It is up to us, to each one of us, today, now – not to hesitate. God needs our confession. We know the whole teaching of Christ. We are better off today than the apostles were in the beginning. Let us give everything to Christ again. Our condition, age, and position. Let it all speak of our faith, faithfulness, and love for Christ. In this will be reflected our greatness, which so pleases God and which God so desires. Jesus calls us to work, to bear witness to Christ. That is how we become like Christ.
Indeed, it has happened to you that you needed something, you asked for it, and you knew they had it, that it was in their power to get it and get it, but you were not their acquaintance, so you left without success, without help. We say that everything goes different at once if one has an uncle upstairs in the office… In other words: Without patronage, you will get nowhere. And today, let’s add: Not even to heaven!
In the Gospel, we heard how his mother and the apostles, cousins, and cousins demanded to meet Jesus. That is to say, in the language in which the Lord Jesus and his contemporaries spoke, there was no difference in words between brother and cousin. Thus, it would seem to us at first sight that the Virgin Mary had more than one child, and the Lord Jesus could have had both a brother and a sister. Such a misunderstanding of this part of the Gospel is still held by many churches and sects today because they do not know or do not want to know the true meaning and content of these words. But that is not the point of this passage. The Lord Jesus here gives us a very high exaltation of spiritual kinship over carnal kinship.
Those who hear the words of Jesus are in a beautiful relationship with Him, the other members of this family, and their own mother, father, brother, or sister. That our commitment to this spiritual community is more vital than to the blood community, he makes us aware of this by his example. When Jesus, on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, leaves his parents, he later abandons his mother and stays in the company of those who want to listen to him. When he is interrupted by relatives while proclaiming the Gospel, he leaves them waiting. He emphasizes the primacy of spiritual kinship with these words: “For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt 12:50).
We who are baptized are well off. We have a Father in heaven. Jesus Christ won for us this familial relationship when, in the Holy Spirit, He adopted us as His brothers. It is a pity, however, that we so disturb it by sin. For by sin we oppose and deprive ourselves of the right of sons hip, we cease to be children, brothers, sisters, and mothers. But what are we to do when, through human weakness, this happens to us? We are to make amends at once, as soon as possible.
Remember the war. Many of you have experienced it; others have seen it, at least in the movies. When they did a house search, they looked through the whole house; from the roof to the basement, they looked in the closets, under the bed, and in the bed. Nothing escaped the watchful eye of the searchers. Such a thorough search of one’s soul should be undertaken by every single Catholic Christian. Yes, even one who approaches the Sacrament of Reconciliation every month.
You come here, dear brothers and sisters, and you often feel more ill mentally than physically. You are held by fear, you feel tension and dissatisfaction with yourself and your conscience. You would like most of all to erase all this and start anew. Yes, start. You have the opportunity and ample free time to conduct a thorough review of your spiritual life. After all, you want to be happy. But how do you want to feel comfortable if you are not family with Jesus?
Get ready and be reconciled to God! Typically, you are still out of breath, and the priest has to wait until you are out of breath and then move on. But this is not about the priest, he will wait, but it is about those who are also waiting… but above all, it is about you. When you are not ready, you just speak as if from a record that has been playing in the confessional for thirty or forty years. No. Before an excellent holy confession, break up the worn-out record, for you are tired of listening to it yourself, and try to listen to another, a new one, which will play after a good and sincere prayer before the sacrament of reconciliation. Then reflect. Take the help of the spiritual mirror that every prayer book has and examine your friendship, your family, and your spiritual relationship with Jesus. Admittedly, it can’t be done quickly. Every significant thing needs time to be realized.
Confession is the most important thing for a Catholic Christian after sin. This means that one who wishes to make a good, Holy Confession must find a time and place where he will not be disturbed by anyone or anything. Accordingly, since he has not been to confession, he must devote time to it accordingly. When a person does not question his conscience daily, when he ignores his conscience, he must make more effort, slowly sifting through his life, friendships, acquaintances, and attitudes. Even one who has not been to confession for many years and today has the opportunity can prepare himself in this way.
No one can plead before a righteous Judge that he has not been told where he is. And maybe Jesus is sending you here to start a new life with us today. The true, supernatural one. At home, you are ashamed, afraid of being seen, and you don’t have complete trust in the priest; he is your friend and a sinner. Do not hesitate! Jesus is waiting! But for you, brother and sister, who also come to Holy Confession every week, the words apply to you too: “For everyone who does the will of my Father who is in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt 12:50).
You, too, need to give more time to your confession sacrament of reconciliation from time to time. Compare the seasons to see if you are improving in your individual sins or loosening up. Whether a true reformation is taking place in you, or whether you are falling into complacency.
Often we may try to bargain with Jesus, perhaps in the manner of, “I love all men. But do not ask me to do good to my neighbor… that I should always have to `sacrifice’ myself in the family… At work, too, everyone uses me…” …and many other questions pop up in one’s mind day in and day out.
It is also necessary for us to remember to keep our lives rooted and directed only to God. For just today. He calls us, “Abide in me and I in you…. for without me, you can do nothing.” And he goes on to say: “Whoever abides in me bears much fruit.” (Jn. 15:4, 5). Can we say why such a radical command is Jesus telling us to `stay in me’? Yes, Jesus knows that the world is filled with hatred, and malice and this can pull a person to this side. To stay with Jesus means: to accept his teaching and follow him. To willingly serve him and be his disciple. Staying with Jesus doesn’t mean simply staying present, nor does it mean simply performing certain acts that we think will fulfill our commitment to God. Abiding in Jesus is first and foremost a matter of the heart – a response to his love for us, and a personal and compelling one.
Often, too, we are only rarely tolerant and rarely accept the truth of others. Perhaps the greatest fact remains that we humans today are very one-sided. We want everyone to think the way we do because we are convinced that our view is the most correct one. Jesus wants us to be partakers of the very life of God. In baptism, we become children of God and members of his body, which is the Church. Jesus wants us to share in the fullness of what he himself has.
Let us try to look at the trunk of the tree and the branches. Together they form the same being – unity, together, they feed and act and bear the same fruit because they are nourished by the same sap. We, too, are to be continually nourished by the sap of Christ – his body and blood, for it is only in him that we move and have our being. Only in him can we say: “My Lord and my God.” Only in him are our faith, hope, and love.
The Holy Scriptures tell us: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance.” (Gal. 5:22). And just as a tree bears fruit to the extent that it is rooted in good soil, so we bear fruit to the time that we are rooted in Christ. The fruit of the Spirit will be manifested in our lives if we learn to abide by the love and power of Jesus. Only then will we love others if we experience God’s love for ourselves. To abide in Christ is to offer our hearts to the Lord and allow his Spirit to minister to others through us.
For St. John received a revelation when he allowed Jesus to fill his mind and heart. St. John Bosco was an Italian peasant with little education, but by submitting his life to the Spirit, he was able to evangelize thousands of young boys and save them from a life of poverty and violence.
An educated pagan, travelling in Europe, met a Catholic priest on a train. He asked him more out of curiosity than sincere interest: “What are the fundamental principles of your religion and Christian doctrine?” Instead of answering, the priest reached for his Catechism and handed it to the stranger. The latter consulted the book but then objected: “I don’t have time to read and study everything. Could you not give me a shorter table of contents of the Christian religion?”
The priest thought for a moment, then pointed to a place in the catechism, “I believe in God…”
The stranger read it but immediately objected again: “Even these principles, so concise and comprehensive, would need further explanation, and we will part in a moment. Could you not express to me still more briefly and more clearly the essence of your religion?”
Again the priest thought for a moment and then answered gravely, almost solemnly, in the words of the Lord Jesus in the Holy Gospel, “Thou shalt love thy God above all things, and thy neighbor as thyself.” The stranger was surprised. He thought and said nothing. In a moment, as the priest was about to get off the train, he shook his hand and said: “Truly, there can be no more beautiful religion than yours, which has such principles!”
Sure enough, this stranger may have understood the words to mean that to stay with Jesus was to accept his teachings and follow him, to serve him and be his disciple willingly. Yes, having radical positions is necessary, and continue standing up for God’s truth.
It is appropriate, now, to say to ourselves: “I need to be rooted and perfected in God’s perfection. Lord Jesus, my soul is comforted by you. I place my hope in you, who know all things, see all things, love all things, and fulfill all things. Lord Jesus, I offer you my heart – penetrate it with your presence and love.
Not only is the personality of the Lord Jesus significant in the time after His birth until the end of time, but the personality of the Lord Jesus as the future Messiah was significant even before His birth. The Lord Jesus Himself confirms this in the Gospel when He quotes the prophet Isaiah saying, “Behold my servant whom I have chosen….” (Mt. 12:18). Why he applies these words to himself, the Gospel explains, “Many followed him, and he healed them all, only he warned them not to betray him. Thus was fulfilled what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet” (Mt. 12:15-17).
Isaiah’s words are part of a song in which the Old Testament singer sings of the future servant of the Lord. Catholic exegetes and many other faithful scholars hold to this day that the Servant of the Lord spoken of in these songs is the Messiah-Jesus Christ. The ancient Jews also expounded on the Messiah. The Chaldean Targum, the Talmud, and many others have interpreted them. Today, we can say that all the songs say about the Servant of the Lord has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The similarity between the Servant of the Lord and Jesus Christ is so significant that it is impossible not to recognize it. And apart from the Lord Jesus, there is no one who can embody the person sung and portrayed by these strokes. The person of the Messiah is known to Isaiah and is often presented to us in his prophecies.
However, we know and see from the life of the Lord Jesus that the Pharisees want to kill the Lord Jesus. Therefore, Jesus withdraws into the background, and at the same time, He commands those He healed to be silent. But we know that these do just the opposite. This is why the Lord Jesus is always getting into trouble, and this is why they later demand a death sentence for Him from Pilate. Strangely, such a little enviable life, which the Lord Jesus had to lead, became the focus of attention and the meaning of life for people until the end of time. But permeating all this is something joyful, to which we rightly give the name of the Gospel – glad tidings of joy. We understand this action when we understand the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus in the light of divine revelation.
What about our meekness? Do we argue with others, shout at each other? The words are true of Jesus: “He will not grieve, neither will he shout… He will not break a bruised reed, he will not quench a dying wick…” Mt. 12:19-20). Do we feel that this too belongs to us?
What about our humility? Can we see something good in the behavior and actions of others? Do we not extinguish the attempt at good by contempt, by the rejection of the other? Are we indeed disciples of the Lord Jesus? Can we be silent, and can we be silent? These and similar questions should be noticed in the practice of our lives.
The person of the Lord Jesus was, is, and will be significant for us and is worth following, imitating, and living according to the teachings of Jesus.