Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. July 19, 2020
Readings: First Reading: Wisdom 12: 13; 16 – 19; Responsorial Psalm: 86; Second Reading, Romans 8: 26 – 27; Gospel: Matthew: 13: 24 – 43
What a privilege we have this weekend to hear from the book of Wisdom. Scholars contend that this is the last book written in the Old Testament, dating from around the time of Jesus. It is a collection of sayings and aphorisms, all testifying to the multivalent truth at the heart of biblical revelation. As one might expect, a major theme of this book is the wisdom of God. But two others, which figure prominently in our reading for today, are power and love.
The First Reading of today tells us about the love of God and the divine power which has mastery over everything and directed at gradually steering people toward the path of life. He cares about everyone, shining in righteousness and has patience towards all. Righteousness is His strength and he will not judge anyone unjustly. In His Divine righteousness, God provides all of us with the opportunity to be saved.
As Jesus continued to preach, teach and heal, there was strong opposition. Many of the powerful ones in the land not only did not agree with Him but wanted to do away with Him. Within that setting, Jesus might appear weak and insignificant against the great powers of the world but one should not fear. As with the smallest seed and the leaven, the kingdom of Jesus will not destroyed.
Sometimes when we notice great evils appearing in the world – and the cause of Christ’s kingdom sustaining a setback – we wonder: “Is God still really in charge ? Does he know what he’s doing ?”
But this attitude seems to presume that a state of perfection has already been reached by the kingdom – or at least that ‘bigger and better’ is going to be the watchword.
The idea that good and bad might coexist gives trouble to the tidy mind. Jesus does not encourage a simplistic approach but calls us to humility, patience and tolerance as we allow God to work in our lives.
However, we are warned by this parable of Jesus that the advance of his cause will take place through a process of slow growth – which will include ups and downs. The forces of evil – of the ‘enemy’ – are going to be pushed back only gradually. Indeed, any effort to immediately identify and eradicate such noxious growths (weeds, ‘darnel’) could even cause collateral damage to surrounding positive outgrowths.
The lesson is : We require patience, and trust that this most experienced of cultivators – the lord of Creation – has the matter well in hand.
Sometimes we may think that perfection is acquired by becoming aware of our faults and working to root these out. However, when we become more familiar with Jesus’ attitude to the limited and sinful side of ourselves we learn to accept our limited and sinful self just as Jesus did with Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). If we don’t accept this side of ourselves, we tend to become fixated with it and fail to appreciate the fullness of life Jesus has already given us.
Be with Jesus and let him teach you to let the weeds grow with the wheat lest seeking to root them or you might fail to appreciate all that is good and even beautiful about your life.
We are frustrated and baffled by the presence of evil in our midst; it is one of our biggest questions. In this parable Jesus tells us that this is the work of the enemy: the struggle between good and evil is to the death, but we can rest assured that God will have the last word. It is never easy to believe this, for often the evidence points in the other direction, so ask for the grace to believe that God is the just and powerful judge.
The farmer discovers the malicious act but avoids a hasty response. He is prepared to wait until the proper time, knowing that, while the seedlings are indistinguishable, the plants will be evidently different from one another.
God is a patient and tolerant ‘householder’. God’s primary care and concern is for the ‘good seed’, the wheat, which he sowed initially. He will not jeopardize its growth. Similarly, God is patient with each of us. God promotes our personal and spiritual growth, and delights when we bear much fruit.
God is ever patient. He bears with us, and we too must be patient with the good and the evil, the sinner and the saint. We must not fear. The key to the mystery of good and evil co-existing is the confidence that the Lord of all history will be present when the crop is gathered. Jesus Himself tells us to go on growing confidently in the midst of human ambiguity, trusting that it is our God who will finally reap a rich harvest.
Good and evil co-exist in human life and in the world. Nothing or no-one is perfect. We are all in need of forgiveness and redemption.
Could it be that it is I who sow weeds in my own heart? Do I ever deliberately spoil things for others? Am I sometimes an enemy to my own good, when I know what to do but do not do it? I ask forgiveness for what the Lord reveals to me about this.
The ‘weeds’ are a species of wild wheat, sometimes known as ‘false wheat’. Only at harvest time can the farmer distinguish the real from the false. Jesus is saying that good and bad are mixed together in this world and indeed in each one of us. We must be patient with others and with ourselves: none of us is yet perfect.
Lord, is the field of my heart a dreadful mix of wheat and weeds? Some of my weeds have deep roots, such as my personality defects. Teach me to be patient with these. And make me patient with the weeds I notice so clearly in others. Don’t let me start tearing them up lest I do more damage than good.
Jesus does not condone or encourage what is not of God, yet he seems to be able to acknowledge that different motivations and spirits are at work. How might I let this spirit of Jesus shape my life?
Perhaps I can look back on events in my life that seemed barren or weedy, and see now that God was at work. What does that say to me about judging, hope or perspective?
There are ‘weeds’ in our life for sure, but they are not the measure of the harvest that God values in us. We ask for help that our habits and choices may give growth to what is good and true.
There are ‘weeds’ in our life for sure, but they are not the measure of the harvest that God values in us. Let us ask for help that our habits and choices may give growth to what is good and true.
Jesus does not condone or encourage what is not of God, yet he seems to be able to acknowledge that different motivations and spirits are at work. How might we let this spirit of Jesus shape our life?
God Bless you. Have a wonderful day.