by Father Alonzo Q. Cox
As a college seminarian, I was living at Cathedral Seminary Residence in Douglaston and attending St. John’s University in Jamaica. At St. John’s, I majored in philosophy. Over my four years of college, I grew to enjoy philosophy. I found many of the courses that I took to be rewarding and ultimately essential as I moved along to study theology in the major seminary. There was just one philosophy course that to this very day I could just not comprehend. That course was logic.
For those philosophy majors who are reading this, I’m sure that you are all too familiar with the realm of logic. For those of you who are not familiar with the philosophy of logic, allow me to give you a brief definition that may help. Philosophical logic is the branch of study that concerns questions about reference, predication, identity, truth, quantification, existence and necessity. The definition alone made me go crazy. Throughout the semester, I kept hearing the professor talk about Boolean logic and conditionals, logic of quantification and mixed quantifiers and, of course, its proofs, both mixed and conditional. I kept reading and re-reading the material that was given to me, and I still had no idea of what the professor was talking about!
As I reflect upon today’s Gospel passage, I am immediately taken back to my experience in logic class. Here we have Jesus speaking to the crowds in parables. Not just one parable but three of them! I can picture in my mind the crowds of people hanging on to every word that was coming out of the mouth of Jesus, but did they know what He really meant?
What I find fascinating is that Jesus purposely speaks to the crowds in parables. Jesus doesn’t come right out and say “this is what this means,” but He allows the crowds along with His disciples to deeply reflect and ponder on His words. Jesus speaks to the crowds in parables “to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13: 13-14).
The common strand among these three parables is growth. In the first parable, Jesus tells the crowds that the kingdom of heaven is like a man who sows good seed in his field. Once the seed grows and flourishes, it produces an abundant amount of fruit. The second parable is that of the mustard seed. A mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, but yet when it grows, it can become the largest of plants. And then in the final parable, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to yeast that a woman mixes with flour. The whole batch is then leavened. We, as disciples of the Lord, are the seeds that Jesus talks about. As we continue to build up the kingdom of God, we are always growing in His love and mercy.
As we continue to grow in the Lord, we must always be aware of Satan’s attempt to stop and hinder our growth. The evil one seems to always attack when we are at our weakest, but as St. Paul tells us in our second reading today, “the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings” (Romans 8: 26). We must always allow the Spirit of God to strengthen us to flourish and grow as we continue to build up the Kingdom of God here on earth.
Although I was unable to grasp the concept of philosophical logic, I pray every day that by the power and workings of the Holy Spirit, God will allow me to see clearly the growth of His disciples here in this kingdom.[hr]
Readings for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Wisdom 12: 13, 16-19
Psalm 86: 5-6, 9-10, 15-16
Romans 8: 26-27
Matthew 13: 24-43 or
Matthew 13: 24-30[hr]
Father Alonzo Q. Cox is the parochial vicar at St. Clare Church, Rosedale, and the diocesan coordinator of Black Catholic Concerns.