July 23 – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Did you know that in St. Matthew’s Gospel the word “kingdom” is used 50 times? This includes the 28 times that he mentions the “Kingdom of Heaven”. Maybe St. Matthew wanted us to know not only about the Kingdom of Heaven, but also about our King! In our Gospel this weekend, we hear several parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, which leads me to the following reflection. 

  When we talk about Heaven, we can have a tendency to only point to the future. We are not in Heaven, so it is tempting to either wait for the time when the Lord calls us there or keep it out of sight and mind.  We fail to see what is being offered to us in the Gospel today, namely the reality that the Kingdom of Heaven is also here and now. 

Through his parables, Jesus reveals that the Kingdom of Heaven is not something we are waiting for, but something we are called to live in right now. He explains the parable of the weeds in the field by saying, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.” We are called to respond to his Word and live as children of the Kingdom of God here on earth. Salvation begins now, not when we get to Heaven. Jesus desires to give us fullness of life in our daily lives as we await Heaven with hope. Even in the face of temptation and hardship, we are called to bear fruit in our lives and to bring others to experience this same joy. 

A few chapters later in Matthew’s Gospel, spoiler alert, Jesus will hand the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to Simon Peter, who is appointed as the rock and foundation of the Church. The Church is an integral part of the Kingdom of Heaven and provides us with graces and sacraments that give us much needed strength to follow Jesus. The Church had humble beginnings, much like the mustard seed in the parables, and yet it is now a place of refuge for all to find shelter.   

Let us not ignore the Kingdom of Heaven, believing that it is something we will only experience in eternity, but instead respond to the Lord’s invitation to live fully with him in the present moment.  May we experience the Kingdom of Heaven here and now at Our Lady of Mercy.  

Father Michael