Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 23rd July 2023

The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness

God’s mercy and compassion are the themes running through today’s readings.

The First Reading offers a description of God’s divine nature. The author emphasises God’s universal care and patience as signs of strength: characteristics that stand at odds with worldly values.

In the midst of his troubles, the Psalmist also reflects on the qualities of the God of mercy and compassion.

In the Second Reading, St Paul tells of the consequences of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Christian prayer. Even when prayer is difficult for us as finite and limited human beings, Paul encourages us to hand over our struggles to the Spirit who prays deeply in our hearts to our Father.

The Gospel shares three parables about growth, each seen from a different perspective. The first tells of the wheat and the weeds. It challenges us to recognise that sometimes we must learn to live with situations we don’t like, because the effort to remove or change them would do more harm than good. This is a shrewd picture of the patience and compassion needed to live with the ambiguities and complexities of human life.

Let us pray this week for a spirit of self-compassion in our frailty and limitations. We ask for the grace of deep humility and freedom to give of our best, and also to have faith in the God of surprises.