16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mt.13:24-43)
In our parable today, Jesus tells us that He plants “the Kingdom of Heaven” seed by seed and that evil is very much present. The Kingdom of Heaven has a purpose and a great harvest is planned.
In our world, it is easier to see the presence of evil than to see the presence of grace. I have found the easiest path to seeing the good is to look backwards at life. I believe that it is in the totality of life that we see movement, grace and the work of the Spirit. When we look at others it seems easier to see God’s presence and action.
The “Good Seed” in the Gospel are the children of God – the children of the kingdom. What is good – “found and sown in the human soul, these are the offspring of the children of God.” (Origen) The Lord clearly points out that He is the one who sows good things. God’s Word and His actions are the good seed at work in the hearts of His children. Grace produces good fruits. This is why we pray, “give us this day our daily bread.”
The Lord also reminds us in the Gospel that evil makes its way in and around us, in the night. It is both in our weariness and infidelity that evil is intertwined within our souls. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to view and welcome our trials as something which, as the Scriptures teach us, are necessary for the soul to grow and love, rather than seeing them as hardships that lead to evil. Temptation and the consent to temptation are two different things. This is the hinge found in our daily prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” (CCC2847)
I would like to share the good life of a gentle man with you. He has lived a long life and has seen the good and evil of the world, and who knows the gift of Divine Providence at work when there is evil. He bears witness to the fruitfulness of the grace of the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God at hand. He is someone near and dear to the hearts of Sacred Heart parish, the BC High community and alumni, and the greater South Shore faith community. Fr. James W. O’Neil, SJ (class of ’57) was born on April 12, 1921. Fr. Jim was born in Dorchester at St. Margaret’s hospital. As a child his family moved to Weymouth. Fr. Jim and his three sisters are all graduates of Sacred Heart Grammar School. Fr. Jim entered the Jesuit order in 1947, shortly after the end of World War II, where he served in the United States Army Air Corps. In 1974, Fr. Jim began to teach mathematics at Boston College High School. In 1992 at the age of 71, Fr. Jim left the classroom fulltime and began to be a tutor for mathematics on a one-to-one basis. Fr. Jim has had an extensive career serving as an educator. But as you read his story you see a humble priest who reminds us always of Divine Providence. Fr. Jim’s homilies reflect his deep prayer and reflection on the Gospel and the one Word who comes to save us and give us a share in His life, “Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of great holiness which He desires you to attain. Do you want to become a great saint? Ask God to send you many sufferings. The flame of Divine Love never rises higher than when fed with the wood of the Cross, which the infinite charity of the Savior used to finish His sacrifice. All the pleasures of the world are nothing compared with the sweetness found in the gall and vinegar offered to Jesus Christ. That is, hard and painful things endured for Jesus Christ and with Jesus Christ. -- Ignatius of Loyola
Fr. Jim knows that the seed planted in his soul by the Lord has grown and yielded good fruit, “Lord increase our faith.” “Truly, I say to you, if you have the faith even like a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.” The Holy Spirit unites us to Christ (the one who sows) and gives us grace to prepare for the harvest. St. Paul reminds us that my faith must be fed by love. “If I have all faith so as to move mountains, yet do not have charity, I am nothing.” (1Co13:2)
Read Fr. Jim’s 1998 interview and see Divine Providence at work. Visit with him in person and see Divine Grace. Fr. Jim says, “You know how at times you can get feeling down, and the Holy Spirit is able to pick you up and keep you going. Well, I would say that I’ve been very fortunate…” To read more of Fr. Jim’s interview visit http://www.jesuitoralhistory.org/text/98ONEIL.pdf
In His grace, Fr. Sean
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