Papal Homilies

16th Sunday of Year A

Pope Francis

God’s Patience

19 July 2020 | Saint Peter’s Square

16th Sunday of Year A

In today’s Gospel (cf. Mt 13:24-43) we once again encounter Jesus who is intent on speaking to the crowd in parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. I will reflect only on the first one, that of the weeds, through which Jesus helps us understand God’s patience, opening our hearts to hope.

Jesus narrates that, in the field where the good seed was sown, weeds also sprouted. This term sums up all the toxic vegetation that infests the soil. Among us, we can say that even today the soil has been devastated by so many herbicides and pesticides that, in the end, harm the grass, the soil and our health. But this is parenthetical. The servants then go to the master to understand where the weeds come from. He responds: “An enemy has done this!” (v. 28). Because we sowed good seed! An enemy, someone who is in competition, came to do this. The servants want to go right away to pull the weeds that are growing. However, the master says no, because there could be a risk of pulling the wheat along with it — the weeds. It is necessary to wait for harvest time: only then will the weeds be separated and burned. This is also a common-sense narrative.


The Problem of Evil

23 July 2017 | Saint Peter’s Square

16th Sunday of Year A

Today’s Gospel reading offers three parables through which Jesus speaks to the crowds about the Kingdom of God. I will focus on the first: that of the good wheat and the weeds, which illustrates the problem of evil in the world and highlights God’s patience(cf. Mt 13:24-30, 36-43). How much patience God has! Each one of us too can say this: “How much patience God has!”. The narrative takes place in a field with two antagonists. On one side is the master of the field, who represents God and who sows good seed; on the other is the enemy, who represents Satan and scatters weeds.

As time passes, the weeds grow among the wheat, and the master and his servants express different opinions regarding this fact. The servants would like to intervene and uproot the weeds; but the master, who is concerned above all with saving the wheat, is against this, saying: “No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them” (v. 29). With this image, Jesus tells us that in this world good and evil are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate them and eradicate all evil. God alone can do this, and he will do so at the Last Judgment. With its ambiguities and its composite character, the present situation is the field of freedom, the field of Christian freedom, in which the difficult exercise of discernment is made between good and evil.


Evil Does Not have the First or the Last Word

20 July 2014 | Saint Peter’s Square

16th Sunday of Year A

The teaching of the parable is twofold. First of all, it tells that the evil in the world comes not from God but from his enemy, the evil one. It is curious that the evil one goes at night to sow weed, in the dark, in confusion; he goes where there is no light to sow weed. This enemy is astute: he sows evil in the middle of good, thus it is impossible for us men to distinctly separate them; but God, in the end, will be able to do so.

And here we arrive at the second theme: the juxtaposition of the impatience of the servants and the patient waiting of the field owner, who represents God. At times we are in a great hurry to judge, to categorize, to put the good here, the bad there…. But remember the prayer of that self-righteous man: “God, I thank you that I am good, that I am not like other men, malicious” (cf. Lk 18:11-12). God, however, knows how to wait. With patience and mercy he gazes into the “field” of life of every person; he sees much better than we do the filth and the evil, but he also sees the seeds of good and waits with trust for them to grow. God is patient, he knows how to wait. This is so beautiful: our God is a patient father, who always waits for us and waits with his heart in hand to welcome us, to forgive us. He always forgives us if we go to him.

The field owner’s attitude is that of hope grounded in the certainty that evil does not have the first nor the last word. And it is thanks to this patient hope of God that the same weed, which is the malicious heart with so many sins, in the end can become good grain. But be careful: evangelical patience is not indifference to evil; one must not confuse good and evil! In facing weeds in the world the Lord’s disciple is called to imitate the patience of God, to nourish hope with the support of indestructible trust in the final victory of good, that is, of God.


SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Pope Benedict XVI

The Kingdom of Heaven

17 July 2011 | St. Peter’s Square

16th Sunday of Year A

The Gospel parables are brief accounts that Jesus uses to proclaim the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. Using imagery from situations of daily life, the Lord “wants to show us the real ground of all things…. He shows us… the God who acts, who intervenes in our lives, and wants to take us by the hand” (Jesus of NazarethFrom the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, English edition, Doubleday, 2007, p. 192). 

With this kind of discourse the divine Teacher invites us to recognize first of all the primacy of God the Father: Wherever he is absent, nothing can be good. He is a crucial priority for all things. Kingdom of Heaven means, in fact, lordship of God and this means that his will must be adopted as the guiding criterion of our existence.

The subject of this Sunday’s Gospel is, precisely, the Kingdom of Heaven. “Heaven” should not be understood only in the sense that it towers above us, because this infinite space also takes the form of human interiority. Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a field of wheat to enable us to understand that something small and hidden has been sown within us which, nevertheless, has an irrepressible vital force. In spite of all obstacles, the seed will develop and the fruit will ripen. This fruit will only be good if the terrain of life is cultivated in accordance with the divine will. 

For this reason in the Parable of the Weeds [tares] among the good Wheat (Mt 13:24-30). Jesus warns us that, after the owner had scattered the seed, “while men were sleeping, his enemy” intervened and sowed weeds among the wheat. This means that we must be ready to preserve the grace received from the day of our Baptism, continuing to nourish faith in the Lord that prevents evil from taking root. St Augustine commenting on the parable noted “many are at first tares but then become good grain”, and he added: “if these, when they are wicked, are not endured with patience they would not attain their praiseworthy transformation” (Quaest. septend. in Ev. sec. Matth., 12, 4: PL 35, 1371).

Dear friends, the Book of Wisdom — from which today’s First Reading is taken — emphasizes this dimension of the divine Being and states: “Neither is there any god besides you, whose care is for all men…. For your strength is the source of righteousness, and your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all” (Wis 12:13, 16). And Psalm 86 [85] confirms it: “You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you” (v. 5). 

Hence if we are children of such a great and good Father, let us seek to be like him! This was the aim Jesus set himself with his preaching; indeed, he said to those who were listening to him: “You… must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). Let us turn with trust to Mary, whom we invoked yesterday with the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel so that she may help us to follow Jesus faithfully, and so live as true children of God.


SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Pope St. John Paul II

Bear Fruit!

23 August 1997 | Saint-Étienne du Mont

16th Sunday of Year A

The reading of the Gospel of Saint Matthew makes us think back to the parable of the sower. We know the parable, but we can re-read the words of the Gospel over and over again and still find new light. So the sower comes out to sow. As he sows, some seeds fall on the path, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, some finally on good soil, and only these last gave fruit (cf. Mt 13:3-8).

Jesus did not limit himself to presenting us with a parable, he explained it. Let us hear then the explanation of the parable of the sower. The seeds that fell on the path represent those who hear the word of the Kingdom of God but do not understand it. The Evil One comes and takes away what has been sown in their hearts (cf. Mt 13:19). The Evil One often uses this tactic and he tries to prevent the seed from germinating in people’s hearts. This is the first comparison.

The second is the seed fallen on rocky ground. This ground represents the people who hear the word and welcome it immediately with joy, but they do not have roots in them and are inconstant. When tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they fall away immediately (cf. Mt 13:20-21). What psychological insight in this comparison made by Christ! We know well from our experience and the experience of others the inconstancy of people deprived of the roots which would enable the word to grow!

The third case is the seed fallen among thorns. Christ explains that he is thinking of those who hear the word but who, because of the worries of the world and their attachment to riches, stifle the word so that it does not bear fruit (cf. Mt 13:22).

Finally, the seed fallen on fertile ground represents those who hear the word and understand it, and the word bears fruit in them (cf. Mt 13:23). All of this magnificent parable speaks to us today as it spoke to the listeners of Jesus two thousand years ago. In the course of this world meeting of youth, let us become the fertile ground which receives the Gospel and bears fruit!


Holy See Homily Notes

16th Sunday of Year A

Dicastery for the Clergy

Homily Notes

Theme of Readings

The liturgy speaks to us of the great realism of Christian life: the presence of good and evil in the world surrounding us and within the human person, the master of the land who sows the good seed and his enemy who sows the bad seed among it, the wheat and the darnel which grow together until the time of the harvest (Gospel); the daring of those who do not know or believe in God’s power and the manifestation of divine strength, although it is done with lenience (first reading); the weakness of man in general and above all at the time of asking for what is right for him and the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us, expressing our plea effectively in a way that could never be put into words (second reading).

P. Antonio Izqeuirdo, L.C., Copyright © Dicastery for the Clergy

Doctrinal Messages

Christianity is essentially optimistic, but it is not utopian

A Christian is certain of the ultimate victory of good, but does not close his eyes to the evil which can be felt in his surroundings. A Christian lives and acts according to the Spirit, but does not forget that he treads the earth with all its anxieties and all its sin. He knows he is the citizen of heaven, but does not cease to be a person of his time and of this earth.

P. Antonio Izqeuirdo, L.C., Copyright © Dicastery for the Clergy

Good and evil, present among mankind have a different origin.

Good was sown by God in the world and in human hearts; evil comes from God’s enemy, from Satan, the father of sin and of every other evil in the world.

  • Good grows in the world not as much by man, but through God’s supernatural and constant action.
  • Evil grows in us and in the world, because the devil provokes and promotes it by making it attractive.

When good reaches maturity it is the culmination of God’s saving action in the world. When evil is ripe, it brings God’s judgment of sin and of sinful men to fulfillment.

It is true that God judges with lenience and governs all with great indulgence (first reading), but only if man opens his soul to the Spirit who comes to help us in our weakness (second reading).

P. Antonio Izqeuirdo, L.C., Copyright © Dicastery for the Clergy

Evil is vanquished by good

The words of the first and second readings give evidence of the triumph of good over evil, thanks to divine lenience and the power of the Spirit. In the Gospel text itself, the insertion of two other small parables between the parable of the wheat and the darnel and the commentary on the latter, can be interpreted as the victory and triumph of good which, being the smallest of all the seeds, becomes the biggest shrub, and which, being a few grams of yeast leavens the flour all through. If such is the force of good, we cannot fail to be convinced of its triumph.

P. Antonio Izqeuirdo, L.C., Copyright © Dicastery for the Clergy

Pastoral Suggestions

Apostles of Good

While we never shut our eyes on evil, why do we almost wish to be blind to good? Unfortunately, good has no apostles, rather it has regular and frequent critics. On the other hand evil, crime, moral disorder are all over our television screens, in the headlines of our newspapers and on the lips of many Christians.

Many of us are concerned about the environment and the ecology of the planet; we should be concerned, at least to an equal extent, about the moral ecology of our mass media, about the ethical cleanliness of the streets of our towns. If the level of atmospheric pollution rises above the norm, immediate measures are taken to bring it down. What happens when the level of moral pollution exceeds what is decent and honest?

Anyone who dares to point to the problem is deluged with criticisms and not infrequent taunts. Certainly, the evil that can be seen and that is propagated must be attacked; however, it is much more important and effective to stifle evil by the proclamation of good, to eradicate evil by means of good and kindness, patience and understanding.

Elite Christians or mass Christians?

This is question Cardinal Danielou raised in the 1960’s. His answer was crystal clear: the Church belongs to everyone and there is room for all. There are saints and there are sinners. There are leaders and those who are led. There wheat and there is darnel. There is human weakness and there is God’s mercy.

Ecclesia sancta et peccatrix. That is our Church. There is a profound realism that pervades and envelopes the Church. By extension, we could also say: “holy and sinful parish,” “holy and sinful religious institution.” Let us be realistic with ourselves and in our pastoral activities. Let us have faith, after all, that in the midst of our parish or religious community, holiness may grow and sin may diminish.

With today’s liturgy, let us rest assured that “God can use his power when he wishes” (first reading) and that “the Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness… expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words” (second reading). With the Gospel, let us be convinced that the seed of good can turn into a large tree.

SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana