View all Gospel Reflections |
I Can Only Imagine
Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, give me ears to hear the message you intend for me to take from this time of prayer.
- Explain It to Us: As the disciples followed Our Lord away from the crowds and into a private home, they asked Jesus to explain his parable to them. They set a good example for us. In our quiet time of reflection, away from the crowds in our life, we please the Lord when we read and study his word to seek deeper understanding. If we’re confused by something he seems to be saying, we simply ask, “Explain it, please,” and he will, either in the moment, or later in a way that often surprises and delights us. Our Lord wants us to ask for the spiritual gifts of wisdom and knowledge so that we may one day say, like Saint Paul, “In him we live and move and have our being.” Understanding the Scriptures aids in this transformation.
- The Devil Is Real: Jesus warns us about the Devil—the enemy who sows weeds, which are souls who will be burned up by fire at the end of the age. This is a pretty sobering reality, yet, four of ten American Catholics don’t believe in Satan, claiming that he is merely a symbol, not a person. To deny his existence can be dangerous spiritual folly. According to Pope Francis, “Some say: but Father, the devil does not exist, it is evil, such an ethereal evil… But God’s Word is clear.” And C. S. Lewis warns us in the Screwtape Letters, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors.”
- The Righteous Will Shine: What good news Our Lord declares about the destiny of the righteous! At the end of the age, the righteous will have absorbed all of the grace sent by the Lord, they will have endured the ever-present temptations of evil, and they will have heard with their ears the will of their Father and acted upon it. With an absence of weeds (imagine a kingdom without evil) the righteous will freely shine, reflecting the light of the Father. This news is cause for rejoicing!
Conversing with Christ: Lord, please help me to hold these realities of heaven and hell in the forefront of my mind, not so that I am disturbed, but that I am properly oriented. Allow me to anticipate with supernatural hope that many many souls will one day join you where the “righteous will shine.”
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will actively look for little signs of heaven throughout my day.
For Further Reflection: Listen to “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe.
Written by Maribeth Harper.