Sunday Sermon for July 23, 2023, the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Readings: Wis 12:13, 16-19; Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43

In the first reading today, Solomon speaks about the power of God and states that because God has mastery over all things, He is lenient to all.  He goes on to say that God judges us with clemency and governs us with leniency.  This, the wise man tells us, gives us hope for the forgiveness of our sins.  At the same time, the kindness, clemency, and lenience God demonstrates, show us, as His children, that we are to act toward others as God acts toward us.

As people continue to question when God is going to intervene to put an end to the evil in the world, we need to recall His clemency.  We need also to remember that St. Peter tells us that God’s patience is directed toward salvation.  God wants the salvation of everyone.  Of course, we know that many will choose against Him, but He allows the present situation to continue because more souls are born into the world and more souls can be saved.  Of course, as people like to point out, more souls can be lost as well.

As we look at the mess the world is in, we must first recognize that no one can blame God.  We have done this to ourselves.  We see that God, in governing us with leniency, is not a micromanager.  He has given us free will and we must choose good or evil, God or Satan, charity or selfishness.  Whichever we choose will affect not only our own lives, but will affect the whole of creation. 

If this sounds extreme, recall what our Lord tells us in the Gospel reading today about the parable of the woman who put some yeast into the flour; the little bit of yeast affected the entire batch of dough.  Perhaps even more critical for us to understand is the way our choices work within our own self.  Jesus uses the parable of the mustard seed which grows to be a large bush.  Whether we choose good or evil, the seed begins to grow within us and becomes larger and larger until it takes over our whole being.  Of course, it does not remain only within us, it goes outside of us and affects others.

Once again, we can see what is happening in the world around us.  Many people are choosing evil and allowing it to permeate their lives.  The seed does not look evil and the way it grows does not appear to these people to be evil because it has a veneer of kindness.  This is usually false charity which rationalizes sin by saying things like: “but he is a good person,” or “we just have to accept everyone,” or as we hear so often in our relativistic society: “everyone is entitled to their own opinion” (about what is true).

The media are expert at manipulating our minds to convince us that what we all know to be wrong is really okay.  Once we buy the lie, it just keeps growing within us until we can compromise just about any truth.  Most of these compromises result in attempts to justify immorality of whatever variety.  Just think of the Catholics who try to justify violating the Sabbath, contraception, abortion, cohabitation, homosexuality, transgenderism, and the list could go on.  Two generations ago people would have been aghast at such ideas and now we are justifying them.

Thankfully, the opposite also holds true.  If we choose to serve the Lord, the seed of truth and charity planted within us will begin to grow and take over more and more.  This is what we see in the lives of the Saints and there is absolutely no reason why it cannot happen in you and me.  The only thing that stands in the way of this happening is our own self.  Sometimes, due to our desire to fit in with the world, we are unwilling to continue to grow closer to the Lord.

However, if we are willing to make the choice for the Lord and really live it, that will not only affect our own lives, but it will affect the whole world.  We have been privileged to see this in a profound way in the life of someone like St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  One woman’s choice to love God and neighbor with her whole heart affected not only herself and the poor with whom she worked, but affected countless souls throughout the world.

Our call may not be so profound, but our choice will still affect many.  This is because it will not be us doing it.  As St. Paul reminds us, the Holy Spirit aids us in our weakness.  So, it will be God working in us and through us, as He did the Saints, to affect the whole of creation and save many souls!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit