Saturday, 16th week in ordinary time – Matthew 13:24-30

Chapter 13 is the third of Matthew’s five discourses found in the Gospel. In this chapter, Matthew will line up seven parables. We have already heard the parable of the soil (not sower as I have argued so passionately in the earlier talk). In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a second parable about sowing seeds, this time about two sowers — one who sows good seed to grow wheat, and the enemy who sows weeds among the wheat. The audience seems to comprise both disciples, the audience for 13:18-23, and crowds (13:34, 36).

In the parable of the weeds and wheat, an “enemy” comes when everyone is sleeping and sows’ weeds”. In the scriptures, Matthew uses the Greek term ‘zizania’ to describe the weeds. In modern botanical terms zizania refers to wild rice grasses. What Matthew most likely refers to, however, is darnel or cockle, a noxious weed that closely resembles wheat and is plentiful in Israel. Darnel looked very similar to wheat in the initial stages of growth but revealed their true identity closer to the harvest when the pant matured and the ears appeared. The ears of the real wheat are heavy and will droop, while the ears of the darnel stand up straight.

In the previous parable, the seed experiences difficulties. This time, the difficulties involve not the types of ground on which it falls, but the actions of an enemy person, “while everyone was asleep.” When the householder’s slaves notice the weeds, their first response is to question the quality of the seed. “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” (13:27) When the master replies that an enemy has sown the weeds, the slaves are anxious to take care of the problem, to root those nasty weeds right out. But the master restrains his servants, saying that in gathering the weeds they would uproot the wheat along with them. He orders them to let both grow together until the harvest. Then he will send out his reapers to collect and burn the weeds and to gather the wheat into his barn (13:28-30). The farmer’s strange practice of allowing the wheat and weeds to grow up together can best be understood as a symbol of God’s patience.

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Goan Beef Roulade (Beef Rolls)

Ingredients

600 grams thinly sliced beef

Grind together the following
Ten cloves of garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
1 inch cinnamon stick
10 cloves
3 green chillies
1 tsp turmeric
1tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp vinegar
Juice of one lime

Ingredients for the stuffing

Goan sausages (pork) – in Goa you buy them in beads
1 Carrots (cut like French fries)
1 potato cut into thick juliennes (like French fries)
1 Capsicum (cut long and fine)
1 onion sliced lengthwise

For the gravy

2 onions -finely chopped
2 tomatoes finely chopped
½ tsp salt
2 tablespoons oil
½ tsp sugar
Remaining sausage meat
2 tablespoons of the ground masala

Grind together all the ingredients mentioned above with the vinegar and lime juice. Now marinate the beef steaks with salt and four tablespoons of the ground masala. Keep about 2 tablespoons of the ground masala for making the gravy. Take the marinated meat and place a piece each of carrot, potato, capsicum and onion. Add some Goan sausage and roll it up. Tie this with some thread tightly. Do this for all the steaks. Heat the oil in deep pan and add onions and salt an saute till translucent. Add the sausage meat and continue to saute. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for a while. When cooked add the remaining ground masala and ¼ cup water. Bring this to a boil. Add some sugar and add the beef rolls to the gravy. Cover and cook on slow head for 30 to 40 minutes and allow the gravy to thicken. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander

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Be the sign not the sigh – 17th Sunday in ordinary time – John 6: 1- 15

Each of the four Gospels narrate the multiplication of the loaves and fish and while the synoptics tell it as a miracle story the Gospel of John wraps it up in greater theological meaning. The Gospel of John is the only Gospel that tells us that this ‘sign’ (remember that the Gospel of John has signs and not miracles) takes place close to the celebration of the Passover and that Jesus leads the people not into a ‘deserted place’ as in the synoptics but up a mountain. Why would John give us these details if not to pique our interest?

So, in order to understand today’s text, you need to read the closing verses of the previous chapter 5:39-47. Jesus gets into a verbal spat with the Jewish religious leaders. He pointedly accuses them of a failure to see in the scriptures they read the very message pertaining to himself as the source of life. He clearly tells them that they do not have the love of God in them and that it is Moses whom they revere, who will be their accuser. It is here that our text begins with these little clues. The very word Moses would jog one’s mind to the Passover and now St John tells us that the Passover was at hand.

St John’s Gospel has seven signs, not miracles. A sign always points to a greater reality and so in the feeding of the five thousand we are called to see the greater reality. The focus therefore is not the multiplication in itself but the person of Jesus who is responsible for it and on his divine nature. Thus, Jesus is presented as the new Moses. So, let’s see the similarities and comparisons in the text.

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SACRED ART IN 100 WORDS

The Supper at Emmaus
Matthias Stom
1633 – 1639
Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

The artist presents a moving story. The downcast disciples treading down the road met with a strange stranger. He who appeared to know nothing, helped them understand everything. Their hearts burned as the destination drew near. The disciples urged – ‘Abide with us.’ At dinner, the Guest became the Host. Recalling the Last Supper, Christ takes the bread, blesses and breaks it, and gives it to them. It was a moment of revelation. The disciples were dumbfounded. Notice that while their left hands rest upon the table, their right hands move towards Christ. Their eyes are wide open, and in the Stranger, they find their Resurrected Friend. This is the story of the Mass. It is our story as we participate in the Holy Eucharist to receive our Friend.

– Archdiocesan Heritage Museum

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Sowing via WhatsApp – Wednesday, 16th week in ordinary time – Matthew 13: 1-9

Chapter 13 is the third of the five major bodies of teachings found in the Gospel of Matthew. This section has seven parables and uses examples from every day Palestinian life that involved farming, trading and fishing. The parables illustrate how God’s empire is at work in the world. The parables also challenge the audience afresh to continue to live on the basis of God’s empire in the midst of various difficulties until its full purposes are accomplished. The word ‘parable’ appears twelve times in chapter 13 and one third of the teaching of Jesus are in parables. A parable comes from a Greek word which means ‘to throw alongside.’ That is, basic to the parable genre is the notion of comparison; one entity is set alongside something else to be illuminated by the comparison.

The text of today reminds us that the parables were given ‘that same day’, namely the Sabbath which we learn of in Chapter 12. Chapter 12 narrates several stories of Jesus’ conflicts with the Pharisees, who are now plotting to destroy him (12:14) and have accused him of working for Satan (12:24). By the end of chapter 12, Jesus appears to be at odds even with his own family (12:46-50). In spite of the personal attacks of the Pharisees against him in 12:24 and his own rejection by his family members, Jesus chooses to carry on teaching and working; he did not let the barbs of the religious establishment get to him.

The parable ‘of the sower’ which is also found in the Gospel of Mark 4:1-9,13-20 and Luke 8:4-8,11-15 takes place “beside the sea” of Galilee where Jesus called the first disciples (4:18-22) and involves a sower, seeds and soil. This scenario was familiar to the gospel’s largely rural audience who knew well the ways of its agriculturally-based society.

Right away I want to draw your attention to the name of this parable. The ‘parable of the sower’ is a misleading title that appears in our Bibles. Over the years we have come to believe that the focus of the parable is on the sower. The focus of the parable is not the sower or the seed but the soil or the listeners of the parable.

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