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    Society of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul

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  • International Confederation

    Society of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul

    "I would like to embrace the World in a network of charity"

Spiritual Reading : Week starting on July 17th, 2017

Week of 17th July 2017 (reference: readings of Sunday 23rd July)

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Readings: Rom 8.26 to 27; Mt 13,24-43

The Spirit always intercedes for the Saints, according to the will of God.

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The Church presents this week a short letter to the Romans (only two verses) and another one, long and rich, the Gospel with three important parables: the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed and the yeast.

Why does Jesus speak in parables? The parables are comparisons. Let us not forget that Jesus taught his disciples in parables, before the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Apostles were very simple people, with little formal education but great wisdom of the soul. The parables were for the disciples the way to understand the message of Jesus in their daily lives. Jesus spoke to them about agriculture, of the lost drachma, about the lamp under the basket, about women's domestic work. Despite this, many times, the disciples did not understand the depth of the message.

Let us note how in today's Gospel, the disciples asked Jesus: "teach us the meaning of the parable of the tares and the wheat". What simplicity! What humility! This attitude of the disciples is related to the brief text of St. Paul’s letter. He tells us: "the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. However, we do not know what to ask or how to ask; The Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us with indescribable moans. The one who delves into the secrets of the hearts knows the Spirit’s intention. It is always the Spirit who, according to the will of God, intercedes for the saints".

Therefore, in order to be holy we do not need to know the meaning of all the biblical texts. What is required is to have an open heart so that the Holy Spirit can plant his message. The same text, the same parable may have two different meanings for two different persons or for the same one at different times. This is what Paul means with "the intention of the Holy Spirit." Theology (the study of God) is not a historical analysis of the biblical texts, but the fact that anyone reading it seeks to understand ‘the Spirit’s intention. This is why it is impossible to understand theology without having the light of faith.

Today’s parables have a very rich meaning that Jesus explains.

I take the parable of the wheat and the tares. How many times we want to set aside the evil done to us; the number of times that we want to turn away from our lives the people who hurt us! However, it is possible that evil can teach us something. It may be that God allows temptation or an action of the devil in our lives for a while, so that it makes us wake up, makes us understand the "intention of the Spirit" for us. It may be God himself through the devil acting as an agent for our conversion; in the end God is greater than the devil!

If we try to fight the devil using evil, we will increase it in us. I always try not to negotiate with or fight against the devil, because I do not know how to do it. I do not know how to discuss with who makes me sick. I always think about how we combat the devil by trying to "pull up the weeds," and maybe I pull up the wheat as well (the good that I have in my soul). Therefore, I think that it is better to let God set the time to pull up the tares, and meanwhile offer God the suffering that I am undergoing due to evil. After all, Jesus himself says in the parable: "at the time of harvest, I will say while cutting the wheat: first pull up the tares and tie in bundles to burn it" then gather the wheat into the barn! ''.

The mustard seed of the parable has two very interesting readings. Firstly, the mustard seed is the smallest of nature, and this very nature makes it to produce a huge tree: only God himself can produce a beautiful creation of that kind. Secondly, so that the seed blossom and a beautiful tree appears and serves the birds, it must die. Here is, in the parable, the meaning of the death of Christ that transforms the world after the resurrection. There is also the importance of the need to let 'die' our mustard seeds in order to generate life. Our mustard seeds can be our faults that once dead, generate life in us. Our mustard seed can also be our sadness and our sufferings that we offer to God, make us die a little, thus giving life to us and to those we love. Finally, for us Vincentians, our mustard seeds can be the small sacrifices we make for the benefit of our assisted brothers, thus "killing" part of our selfishness, turning this death into a huge benefit for them, for us and for our loved ones, for whom we offer these small sacrifices, which are like small seeds of mustard.