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July 23, 2023: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Patience is rooted in Hope (an image of a bush filled with birds would be great) Life, like the church, is often burdened with evil, smallness, and impurities. The Lord’s parables give us a hope-filled perspective on all three.

Evil: in Jesus’ parable about the good farmer whose enemy plants weeds at night, Jesus tells us that God is not the cause of evil but permits evil to exist with good out of his patient love. He will finally deal with it, but his love lets things stay messy for a time.

Smallness: It’s funny that Jesus says his kingdom looks like … wait for it … a bush. What a letdown! Yet this little shrub still somehow has room for all the birds of the sky. The smallness of the Church, and even our own little lives, still provides plenty of room for all whom God sends.

Impurities: divisions and hypocrisies in the Church and our own hearts exasperate us. Recall that Jesus compares his kingdom to a lump of dough with impure leaven eating away at it and therefore making it expand. It’s the secret of the Cross. Not how we’d prefer it. But finally, great news.

The field, the bush, the loaf: all three parables invite us to embrace a patience rooted in hope: one day the field will be weeded, the bush filled with birds, and the risen loaf leaven-free.

— Father John Muir



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