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Youth Ministry Resources - 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matt 13:24-43 - The Kingdom of Heaven - 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

We hear a lot about the Kingdom of Heaven in the Scriptures and at times it can seem a vague, distant concept that fails to capture our understanding of God's plan for us and our world. The Greek word Basileia means Reign and in the earliest times the followers of Jesus were called the Reign of God movement or followers of The Way, it was not until around 80CE in Antioch that people first called themselves Christians. Matthew refers to the Kingdom of Heaven to mark the difference to the kingdoms in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Jesus is explaining what the Kingdom of Heaven is like by using three different parables about everyday experiences so that the crowds can relate to the power of this heavenly Kingdom. The first parable about the wheat and the darnel provides a key insight into understanding what the Reign of God is about and it can be summed up in one word - inclusive. Jesus is teaching that everyone is offered a place in the Kingdom. "Let both grow together…" this is the crucial part of the answer, advocating patience and tolerance before the final sorting.

Jesus is offering the whole of humanity, the field sown with wheat and weed, the opportunity to be included into God's Kingdom. There is no sorting out first before the offer is made, the offer is there for all and the sad reality is that some will reject this inclusive offer of love. It is a reminder to us not to judge those around us because what might appear to be 'weed' and hence unworthy, may respond to God's invitation. It might well be the homeless person we walk past on our way to the Cathedral, or the refugee incarcerated in remote Australia or the young person looking for meaning in aerosol paint. It might not be those who 'appear' to be just or acceptable.

Sometimes we can become rather zealous about rooting out evil rather than promoting good or even looking for good before we label the bad. It is not for us to judge but rather for us to promote the inclusiveness of the Reign of God. Sometimes we can dismiss something as small and inconsequential but in doing so we can overlook the mustard seed, or the leaven. God uses everyday items to remind us of how surprising the Kingdom of Heaven is and how something small can change the world. Each of us can be seen as leaven because of the power of our Baptism and that power can be used for good in the world. The power of one being open to God's grace can change the direction of a community.

Cate Mapstone

Year C: Luke 10:38-42 - 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Hospitality is a significant theme in the writing of Luke and in this well known story Luke also includes another significant theme, the discipleship of both women and men. Despite the fact that Jesus is visiting his good friends Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, Jesus breaks three Jewish cultural norms. Firstly, despite their friendship, Jewish cultural norms demand that a male cannot be alone with women who are not related to him. Secondly, Jesus cannot be served by a woman and finally Jesus is teaching a woman in her own home. These are not insignificant breaches of the 1st Century cultural code. Jesus' whole demeanour, along with his teaching, is challenging all those who meet him. To many his behaviour would be quite shocking.

As the early Christian communities embraced the teachings of Jesus, it was not uncommon for women to host the church in their houses. Luke and Paul both describe female deacons and leaders of these communities. For those of us who always seem to be doing the work while others watch, our sympathies are usually with Martha. Her hospitality is clearly active and more practical. Everyone is hungry and somebody has to do something about it. However, Jesus' teaching is quite clear. "There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part." The word 'part' from the Greek indicates 'portion,' so Jesus is teaching that there are different ways of being fed and nourished.

The "one thing" is listening to God's word, this is the best part of being nourished. That is why our regular attendance at mass provides us with the nourishment to go out and be disciples. If we are too busy being Martha, then we are not spending enough time with God. If we spend all our time in contemplation, then we cannot make our contribution to the Basileia, the Reign of God in our time. The decisions we make about using our time need to reflect a balance. Jesus makes it clear that God's primary intent towards us, God's children, is to give us love and salvation, rather than seeing us rushing around and being caught up in 'the doing.' Our modern world emphasises achievements, like Jesus, we need to be 'counter-cultural' and focus more on God and God's unlimited love for us.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time