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July 30th, 2011

Parables About The Kingdom of Heaven

Parables About The Kingdom of Heaven

Parables About The Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:44-53)

Jesus said to the crowds, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. The one who finds it buries it again; and so happy is he, that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like a trader who is looking for fine pearls. Once he has found a pearl of exceptional quality, he goes away, sells everything he has and buys it”

Jesus said to his disciples, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a big fishing net let down into the sea, in which every kind of fish has been caught. When the net is full, it is dragged ashore. Then they sit down and gather the good fish in buckets, but throw the worthless ones away. That is how it will be at the end of time; the angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just and throw them into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and gnash their teeth”.

Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?”. “Yes”, they answered. So He said to them, “You will see that every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple of the Kingdom is like a householder who can produce from his store things both new and old”. When Jesus had finished these parables, He left the place.

Reflection:-

Today, Matthew places three parables about the Kingdom of Heaven for us to ponder over. The announcement of the Kingdom is of essence in Jesus’ preaching and in the hopes of the chosen people. But it is evident the nature of this Kingdom is not understood by the majority. The Sanhedrin who condemned him to death did not understand it, nor did Pontius Pilate or Herod, and initially, not even his disciples understood it.

We can find only in the good thief, hung in a cross along with him, the comprehension Jesus requests when he says: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Both had been accused as criminals and were about to die; but, because of an unknown reason, the good thief recognizes Jesus as the King of a Kingdom that will come after that terrible death. It could only be a spiritual Kingdom.

In his first preaching, Jesus speaks of the Kingdom as of a hidden treasure, the finding of which causes the finder a great joy and impels him to buy the field to be able to enjoy it forever: “and so happy is he, that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field” (Matthew 13:44). But, at the same time, to reach the Kingdom it is necessary to look for it with yearning and effort, to the point of selling all one may have: “Once he has found one of exceptional quality, he goes away, sells everything he has and buys it” (Matthew 13:46). “What is He referring to when He says seek and he who seeks, finds? I daresay He is referring to the pearls and to the pearl, pearl that acquires he who has given up everything and has accepted to lose everything”.

The Kingdom is peace, justice and liberty. To reach it is, at the same time, a gift from God and a human responsibility. In front of the greatness of this divine gift we realize the imperfection and instability of our own efforts, quite often destroyed by our sins, our wars and our malice that looks insurmountable. Nevertheless, we must have confidence, because what looks impossible for man is more than possible for God.

This Gospel is a vital call to conversion. Jesus does not spare us the hard reality: “The angels will go out to separate the wicked from the just and throw them into the blazing furnace” (Matthew 13:49-50). The warning is quite clear. We just cannot take it easy and go to asleep!

Now, it is our turn to freely choose: we either seek God and make goodness a part of our life, or we prefer to stand on the precipice of death. Or with Christ or against him. To convert ourselves means, in this case, to freely opt to become one of the upright ones and live a life worthy of his sons. However, within us we have the experience of sin: we realize the good we should do but we do the evil, instead; what do we do to provide our lives with a sense of true unity? We, alone, cannot do much. Only if we place ourselves in God’s hands shall we be able to attain the goodness and be counted amongst the upright ones.

“Because we know not when our Judge shall appear, so we should live every day as if it were our last” (St. Jerome). These words are a call to live with intensity and responsibility our Christianity. It is not a matter of being afraid, but of living in the hope this is a time of grace, praise and glory.

Christ shows us the only way to our own glorification. Christ is the only way to heaven; therefore, our salvation, our happiness and whatever we can imagine happens through Him. And if we have everything in Christ, we can hardly refrain from loving the Church, that shows him to us and is its mystic body. Against purely human visions of this reality we have to recuperate the divine-spiritual vision: nothing bigger than Christ and the fulfillment of his will!

– – – reflection by Fr. Enric CASES i Martin and  Fr. Ferran JARABO i Carbonell

July 24th, 2011

Wheat and Weeds – Let Them Just Grow Together

Wheat and Weeds Let Them Grow Together

Wheat and weeds parable (Matthew 13:24-30)

Jesus told his disciples another parable, “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then the servants of the owner came to him and said: ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?’. He answered them: ‘This is the work of an enemy’. They asked him: ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’. He told them: ‘No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them just grow together until harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the workers: Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn’”.

Reflection:-

“Let them just grow together”

Today, we shall ponder over a parable referring to community living, where good and evil, Gospel and sin, constantly get mixed up. Settling this situation as the servant suggests would seem the logical approach: “Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?” (Mt 13:28). But God’s patience is infinite, and He waits until the very last moment —as a good father would— for the possibility of a change: “Let them just grow together until harvest” (Mt 13:30).

An ambiguous and mediocre reality, perhaps, but that is where God’s Kingdom grows. It has to do with the feeling of being called to discover the signals of the Kingdom of God so we can boost it, while we are trying to avoid whatever conforms us into mediocrity. However, living in that mixture of good and evil should not hinder nor hamper the advance of our spiritual life; for, otherwise, we should be transforming our wheat into weeds. “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?” (Mt 13:27). It is not possible to grow in any other way, nor can we look for the Kingdom anywhere else than simply in this society we are given to live in. Our task will be to make the Kingdom of God grow in it.

The Gospel invites us not to grant any credit to the “pure”, to overcome the existing aspects of puritanism and bigotry of the Christian community. In all collectivities, no matter how healthy they are meant to be, it is easy to find this kind of attitude. Leaning on ideals, we all feel tempted to think we are the lucky ones that have already achieved perfection, while the rest is still far from it. Yet, Jesus proves that all of us, without exception, are still on our way.

Let us, therefore, be on the alert to prevent the devil to sneak up on us, which is what normally happens when we conform ourselves too much to this world. St. Angela of the Cross said, “we are not to listen to the voices of the world saying there are who do this or that; we stick to our own way, without inventing any variations, and always following our way of doing those things, which are like hidden treasures; for they will open the gates of Heaven for us”. Let the Mother of God help us conforming only to love.

– – – reflection by Fr. Manuel Sanchez Sanchez (Seville, Spain)

September 15th, 2010

Video : Lazarus and The Rich Man

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The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31) is given here as a Video. Watch it.

Video Transcript : Lazarus and The Rich Man

There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed and who lived each day in luxury. At his door lay a diseased beggar named Lazarus. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. Finally, the beggar died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Lazarus in the far distance with Abraham.

The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in these flames.’

But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. Anyone who wanted to cross over to you from here is stopped at its edge, and no one there can cross over to us.’

Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them about this place of torment so they won’t have to come here when they die.’

But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read their writings anytime they want to.’

The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will turn from their sins.’

But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’

Reflection on Lazarus and The Rich Man parable

Basically, the story of Lazarus is about compassion, or more exactly about the lack of it.

Here Jesus invents a “teaching story” or parable in which He stages a rich man who has no compassion for a poor man living beside Him. After his death, the rich man is condemned for his hardness of heart. This is the main thrust of the story. The fact that it deals with financial wealth is rather secondary, and we must take note of this very carefully. If we don’t, we will think that this teaching of Jesus is only for the financially wealthy.

But, in truth, financial wealth is only a stage prop in the story. For lack of compassion can characterize any of us in the various aspects of our social lives. I can lack compassion towards those who are less “fortunate” than I am in terms of family life, brains, health, good looks, education, or friends.

How do I treat the Lazaruses I meet every day in my own life? Please think.

But this parable contains another important teaching. It corrects the mistaken way in which the rich man understands the mechanism of conversion. Because the rich man is like a lot of people who seek religious sensationalism. They are always looking for miracles, private revelations, strange phenomena.

But Jesus warns us against this kind of attitude. We have in the Bible and in the teaching of the Church everything we need for our Christian life and our salvation. Waiting for anything more amounts to refusing the grace of God.

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