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The Liturgy of the Catholic Mass is the Best Evidence of God’s Loving Patience (16th Sunday of OT) – Year A

The Liturgy Sense of the Readings at Catholic Mass
The Liturgy Sense of the Readings at Catholic Mass
The Liturgy of the Catholic Mass is the Best Evidence of God's Loving Patience (16th Sunday of OT) - Year A

Reflection on the Readings at Mass for the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A. The Liturgical Sense of the Scriptures Podcast, by Catholic Author and Theologian David L. Gray. READINGS: Wisdom 12:13, 16-19, Romans 8:26-27, and Matthew 13:24-43. (Watch on YouTube)

The Liturgy of the Mass is the Best Evidence of God’s Loving Patience

Today’s First Reading for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time from the Book of Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 is taken from a longer homily beginning in 11:6 and ends in 19:12, but the preface of this homily in 11:1 and describes the author’s homily as being a narrative or an illustration of things through which the Israelites foes (e.g., the Egyptians and the Cannanites) during their Exodus were punished for but had, in turn, benefited God’s chosen people. This illustration of events, Addison G. Wright (The Structure of the Book of Wisdom, 1967) labeled as ‘Five Antithetical Diptychs’.

The second of these Antithetical Diptychs is called, ‘Quail instead of the Plague of Little Animals,’ in which our readings for today, the author explains the reason for God’s justice and lenience against the foes of Israel is because God is not a slave to His might, saying, “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.” This portion of the homily follows 11:17 – 12:8, in which the author of Wisdom teaches that God is merciful because He loves.

In its own way, the liturgy of the Mass is also a type of diptych, an unfolding illustration, where on one side is we see an illustration of the people being prepared to receive Christ Jesus and the adjacent illustration of people being in communion with Christ Jesus and hinge that binds these two illustrations together is God’s love. Moreover, the homily of Wisdom concerning God’s just lenience through the tool of a diptych is also undergirded with the understanding the reason why God treats us as He does is because He is patient with us. In other words, God’s mercy, goodness, and lenient justice must unfold and be gradually revealed to us as a diptych is because of our weak condition; a wounded condition that sometimes favors rebellion against God, does have the potential to improve over time through the exposure to His patient presence and love.

If our Eternal Father’s love is patient with us, according to the Apostle Paul, the love of the Holy Spirit is also ever patient with our weak condition and is searching deep within us to bring us home, writing to the Church in Rome in Today’s Second Reading in 8:26-27: “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.” In this way, knowing that we are wounded and are at times unable to pray and confess as we ought, the Divine Symphony comes to put words in our mouths, confessions on tongues, and songs on our lips to express to God that we need His help, His mercy, His justice, and His lenience in our life. For, if the Church, which is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, did come to the aid of our weakness and teach us how to pray and worship, we would have been able to call ourselves abandoned and orphans. Yet, here the promise from God is fulfilled again in the words of Christ Jesus, who said, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18) and “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always” (John 14:16).

If our Eternal Father’s and the Holy Spirit’s love is patient with us, according to the Gospel Reading today from Matthew 13:24-43, Christ Jesus is also patient with us, just as the man in the parable “who sowed good seed in his field,” who was patient with weeds growing alongside the wheat until it was time for the harvest. His love is patient with our wounded condition, just as the parable of the mustard seed sowed in the field. It was the smallest of all seeds, said the Lord, “. . . yet when full-grown, it is the largest of plants.” Christ Jesus’ love is patient with our weaknesses, just as the woman in the parable patiently waited for the fermentation of the yeast to cause the wheat dough to rise.  

Truly, the Liturgy of the Catholic Mass is the best evidence we have on earth that God is patient with us. For, not only does He allow us to worship Him, which only a patient God would, but He allows us to return to worship Him again, and again, and again, even though we may have offended Him greatly since the last time we communed with Him. Yet, through the liturgy, He forgives us those offenses that were not grave; He allows us to speak to Him, to make confession and atonement to Him. He allows us to use the body that He gave us to make sounds of praise and to glorify His name. He allows the priest to come in the person of His Son, so that He might speak back to us and to facilitate a true communion with Him in His Real Presence. Then, in a grand demonstration that He is not only being patient with us, but with the whole world, He dismisses us, with the Son and the Holy Spirit dwelling with us, so that we might be His vessels of encounter for those trapped in darkness and sin. Therefore, if God’s love is so patient and merciful with us, please be patient and merciful with yourself today. Yes, hear His Word and be a living voice of His word in thought and deed. For, this is who the liturgy is patiently forming you to be.

This is just one way how the readings at Mass this Sunday connect to the liturgy and how the liturgy is forming us how to live our lives in the world. Be in the world what you have received through the liturgy.

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