16th Sunday Ordinary Time – An Hospitable Beginning

Abraham sets the tableThis week’s gospel will challenge gardeners who compulsively pull weeds and perfectionists who obsess about ordering every inch of space.  Killjoy warning: It’s about not pulling up weeds.  So, let’s ease into it all.

The Greek verb that introduces the parable of the weeds & wheat (plus two others) literally sets the table for us to receive and be fed by the parables that follow – paratíthemi, “to set before them.”  It brings forward the picture of setting the “table” for guests, as when Abraham and Sarah provided food for the three travelers:

Genesis 18:8f            Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.  They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.”  Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him…

And, it also has a kicker – “Here are your choices. Choose one!!!”

Sirach 15:15–17            If you choose, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.  He has placed before you fire and water; stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.  Before each person are life and death, and whichever one chooses will be given.

So, to you gardeners who feel compelled to pull weeds – Peace!

And to you who obsess over order – Welcome!

The Lord welcomes you to the feast and sets before you a parable to feed you.  Dine well!

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