God is merciful, lenient and desirous of our being reconciled to him. Because of this, God gives us every opportunity to do what’s right, to live the justice that God models for us, and even fills in for us when we don’t know how to talk to him.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
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.
Lord, you are good and forgiving.
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.
“…if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest…”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
Because God has perfect authority–has power and control over all things–God can model true justice for us. The marks of justice that we see in God are kindness, lenience, clemency, hope, and repentance. When we sin God corrects us and gives us an opportunity to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves because God’s deepest hope is that we will turn back to him. This is what love does–it hopes and makes it possible for its beloved to make things right–not to force the issue, but to make it an option. God only wants our love freely offered, not required.
Paul’s letter to the Romans reminds us that God knows our hearts perfectly. God knows what our hearts want most, and when we can’t express it ourselves, makes our prayers for us. God meets our needs even when we don’t know what they are.
The parable in today’s Gospel is one more illustration of God’s mercy, and then a few expressions of what happens when we cooperate with God’s plan for us. God doesn’t smite bad people–nobody gets struck by lightning when they do something bad, Churches don’t fall on people who haven’t been there in a while, karma doesn’t come around and get you in the end. God lets good people and bad ones live together, like the wheat and the weeds because God believes that people who are making bad choices now, could change and start making good ones. Being with other people who are living properly can have an influence on them–especially if those good ones are living the justice that God models for us. God gives every one of us multiple chances to learn from our mistakes and to make decisions that will bring us true joy. God wants us to give others the same chances that we’re given; and when we do, our kindness, mercy, lenience, etc. becomes like the yeast that the woman put in the dough, and the tiny seed that grew into a huge tree. Our kindness can change the hearts of those who need to encounter love.
Have you ever been given second chances when you were misbehaving? How did it make you feel to be given a second chance? Did you use that chance to do what was right?
Did you ever have someone know you so well that you didn’t have to say everything you were thinking? Maybe they finish your sentences for you, or know what you mean even when you don’t? How does it make you feel to be known so well? Did you know that God knows you that well, and even better, and loves you no matter what is in your heart?
When plants are young, it can be hard to tell what they are–especially since weeds disguise themselves as good plants. What are some characteristics of people that you look for to discern whether they share your values? Have your values changes over time? Do you ever behave more like weeds than wheat? If you have a garden, take the kids outside and see if they can tell what plants belong and what plants don’t. Let them help you weed the beds.
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”