Biblical Readings for each day's Mass,
(for the Liturgical Year 2021)

Saturday, July 24, 2021
Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Exodus 24:3-8

Moses offers sacrifice, and the people accept the book of the covenant

Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, "All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do." And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient." Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, "See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words."

Responsorial: Psalm 49:1-2, 5-6, 14-15

R./: Offer to God a sacrifice of praise

The God of gods, the Lord,
  has spoken and summoned the earth.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
  out of Zion's perfect beauty he shines. (R./)

'Summon before me my people
  who made covenant with me by sacrifice.'
The heavens proclaim his justice,
  for he, God, is the judge. (R./)

Pay your sacrifice of thanksgiving to God
  and render him your votive offerings.
'Call on me in the day of distress.
  I will free you and you shall honour me.' (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 13:24-30

Parable of the weeds sown among the wheat

Jesus put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"

A Covenant of Justice

Exodus ends with the "Book of the Covenant," which is the very heart of the Mosaic Torah. In a solemn ceremony presided over by Moses, the the covenant union between God and the people is celebrated. A little later in the chapter, a sacred meal is added to signify the same result, a lasting bond between God and the people. This symbolism is repeated, with some modification, in our Eucharistic service. Over the chalice the priest repeats Jesus’ words: "This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant."

Today’s gospel advises patience and hope in face of wrongdoing by others. If weeds are detected in a wheat field and the prophet-servants want to go out and pull them up, the master says, "No! If you pull up the weeds and you might take the wheat along with them." It is not that God tolerates evil forever, but allows plenty of time for the harvest to be properly brought home.

The tolerant farmer

The farmer (who sowed wheat seed in a field) had a different outlook from that of his servants. When weeds appeared among the wheat the servants wanted to dig up the weeds so as leave only pure wheat. The farmer’s instinct was different. In a sense, he was more tolerant of the weeds. He suggested letting both wheat and weeds grow until the harvest time, and then they can be separated. A patient man; he knew he would get his wheat without the weeds eventually. Meantime, he could let them be.

Jesus seems to be saying something here about ours attitudes too – and about our church and all the individual disciples in it. He seems to be acknowledging that the church will be a mixture of the good and the not-so-good up until the end of time, when all that is not of God will disappear.

As individuals, we too are a mixture of light and shade until we are fully conformed to the image of God’s Son in the next life. Yes, we are all the time trying to grow more fully into God’s Son. Yet, we have to accept that sin will always be part of our lives, this side of eternity. Like the farmer in the parable, the Lord is patient with us. We need to be patient with ourselves and with each other. This is not complacency; it is simply the realistic recognition that we are all a work in progress. God has begun a good work in our lives, and even if it is not perfect in this life, God will bring his good work to completion in eternity.