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Homily, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parable of the Weeds and Wheat

16th Sunday of the Year A -- July 19, 2020  -- Msgr. Joseph K. Ntuwa
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19; Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43

The demand for instant judgement, for rooting out those who have done harm to us, for bringing the last judgment into the present tense, is something that is challenged in today’s scripture readings. “Though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us.; the author of the book of Wisdom writes. The responsorial psalm, with its appeal to a God of mercy and compassion, states; “You, O LORD, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you”. We cannot avoid making judgments in daily life, but such judgments should always be tempered by the mercy we ourselves hope to receive.   

The parable of the “Wheat and the Weeds,” can be troubling. Jesus tells the story of a farmer whose crop of wheat is attacked by an enemy who sows the seeds of weeds along with the grains of wheat. Once the violent act was done, there was no going back. The wheat and the weeds had to be allowed to grow together. It would only be at the time of the harvest that the separation would finally take place, and the weeds would be burned up. This Parable is a story about God’s mercy, and a reminder that God gifts us with the time and space that allow for conversion and renewal so we can experience reconciliation, healing and growth. In these parables of the Kingdom, Jesus described us as a work in progress. As such, we are a mixture of good and bad. We need to grow to perfection. So, what can we draw from this parable? Do we see ourselves in any of these three categories of people?

First, there are those who cannot see their own goodness. This group of people is so conscious of sin that they can no longer see goodness. Such people need to experience the love of God from which all self-love and a sense of self-worth comes. God loves the good in us much more than he hates evil and that's why He gives us lots of time ‘til we ripen and are ready for the harvest’. Second, this parable is for those who cannot see their own evil.  Part of a healthy relationship with ourselves is to be able to recognize and admit to the darnel that is growing within us. Perhaps, this is why Jesus said to the Pharisee: I have come for the sick, not for the healthy. Jesus came for sinners, and if at all we do not recognize ourselves as sinners, we won't see any need for Jesus. Third, the parable is also meant for those of us who make a habit of judging others. When we do this, we are ‘playing’ God.  St Paul underlines the same point when he tells the church in Corinth; “There must be no passing of premature judgement. Leave that until the Lord comes” (1Cor 4:5). Paul, like Jesus was aware that we can get it terribly wrong about people. Paul himself changed from being a real weed to a real apostle, even though some people wouldn’t believe him at first.

We certainly do not need to be told there are weeds in God’s kingdom. We all know that. The church and its members, and leaders included, are not always perfect. Imperfection is all around us, in our nation and in other nations, in our friends, in members of our family and in ourselves too. The wheat and the weeds both grow, and they have power. Evil in our world is not just error, mistake or imperfection. It has a power to destroy but grace also has real power. It too is present and growing in our world.  No one understood this better than our Lord Jesus. Even in the small garden (the twelve apostles) which he tended carefully for three years, the weeds persisted, yet he didn't write it off. Jesus knew the flaws in Peter, Judas and the other apostles but he chose them anyway. This is not to say that Jesus was soft on sin. He commanded the adulteress to go and sin no more. He sharply rebuked his apostles several times for their pitiful lack of faith, but he did not dismiss them after their numerous blunders. He had come for the sick, not the healthy.

Our God is a patient God who is not ready to come down to destroy his creation for every sin and evil he sees, rather he is ready to come down to call us to holiness and save us. “If Oh God should mark our guilt, who would survive?” (Ps 129). Despite the weeds, in every generation and in every parish, there is still a harvest of people who want to know God, love God, serve God in this world and be happy with Him forever in the next.  We are called to be wheat as far as possible. So, we need to spend our time and energy trying to be wheat in the world rather pull the up weeds. At harvest, that is what will matter most. 

Lord, You are forgiving and just

Tags: All Saints Catholic Church, Msgr Joseph Ntuwa, Matthew 13, Parable of the Weeds


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