Subject: SUNDAY July 19 2020 16TH SUNDAY in Ordinary Time
The Gospel Matthew 13:24-43
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
He proposed another parable to them.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”
He spoke to them another parable.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only 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.
Then, dismissing the crowds, he 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.”
After the Gospel:
It was such a frustrating parable!
The easy part was “An enemy has done this!”
because of the usual village quarrels
where a man ended up having his crops burnt,
his olive tree cut down,
his well poisoned with a rotting carcass …
all under cover of darkness by the enemy…
or a good field … sabotaged…
not just an annoyance, a hazard … especially if the weed were darnel,
called “poison darnel,” because it carries a fungus that spoils the flour
when it’s ground together with wheat, causes nausea and vomiting when eaten,
also called “wheat’s evil twin,” because it looks so much like wheat until maturity.
What puzzled them was: “Let both of them grow together until the harvest!”
Even His explanation was frustrating!
It was a picture of God’s Kingdom! He said.
God Himself has a field – the whole human race –
in which a divine purpose is being worked out.
In his field, people who do God’s will live side by side
with people who do the work of the evil one, the confuser of minds and hearts.
The angels will collect the harvest at the close of the age,
in a separation that deals with lawlessness and unrighteousness.
Until then, it’s God’s field. Let Him sort it!
Let God guide the history of mankind to the end that fulfills His aim.
For his servants to go trampling through it, could even be dangerous,
tearing up good wheat along with those they thought were weeds;
they could harm, even destroy, good plants in an effort to weed out the bad,
they could prevent good crops from becoming mature and eventually bearing fruit.
Until the harvest, have confidence that God knows how human history is proceeding,
how the Church is proceeding,
how wheat and weeds are growing side by side,
how his rain falls on the virtuous and on the wicked,
his sun rises on the good and on the evil.
He knows that His kingdom is like a dragnet cast into the sea, which catches fish of every kind,
good fish sorted into containers, the bad thrown away.…
He knows there are both wise maidens and foolish ones in His kingdom,
and a dishonest steward —
praised by his master for shrewdness and industriousness in saving himself…
and one son who said “Yes, I’ll do it!” but didn’t …
along with his brother who said, “NO! I won’t do it!” but did …
In His kingdom you’ll find a Good Samaritan who is a hero,
even though he was an unclean , forbidden type …
because Jesus himself associated with the unclean, the outcast.
And there’s a Prodigal, who ran away, went well astray from his father,
lived a misspent life, and when he had noplace else to go,
heard deep down in his heart his father’s voice:
‘Return as far as you can, and I will come the rest of the way to meet you.’
And Feasts. There are always Feasts in His Kingdom, notes of joy celebrating Repentance.
In fact, Jesus said his Spouse, the Church,
was like a king who gave a great wedding feast for his son,
but when the invited guests didn’t come,
the king sent servants out to the highways,
to bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame,
to compel people to come in, so that his house would be filled.
To compel everyone … as many as they could find … both bad and good … so that his house would be filled.
Frustrating or complex it may seem, that’s how Jesus describes His kingdom, His field,
His Church, as He assures us: God knows what He is doing and remains in control.
Let them grow together, Jesus says, three things for sure:
First: Evil will be destroyed.
Second: A judgement will come, as much as we don’t like to hear that word … because judgement implies laws, right and wrong.
Even though we’d like to be judge and jury,
we only see the outside, we can’t see the inside or know the heart …
So the judgement will be God’s domain, not man’s.
Third: Don’t bet on when, because the judgement won’t come yet … it’ll be in God’s time.
Meanwhile, it’s a bad miscalculation to think people who do God’s will
bow down and keep silent.
On the contrary, the Sacrament of Confirmation has commissioned us,
just like the Apostles, to a balancing act of action and prayer,
commands us to keep on growing and being nurtured,
keep on bearing good fruit, bearing witness to what is good and true in our lives…
It empowers us with voices of truth and justice …
commits us to speak out, to name evil, meaning, we can’t keep silent.
– we can’t be complicit and just stand by….
We’ve been given the will to fight evil,
and given the greatest tool of all to strengthen our action : Prayer!
Look what happened a week and a half ago…
After seven years of unending court battles to save their ministry,
seven years of being threatened millions of dollars in fines as they served the elderly and dying,
seven years of being in the news, standing on courthouse steps in their black habits and grey veils,
the Little Sisters of the Poor finally got protection.
The nuns who all along said: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”
The nuns who, like St Augustine, believed that weeds could change,
who prayed for God’s limitless grace to work in the world, so weeds could actually change and become wheat!
When the angels come back, carrying their sheaves,
may there be much singing and rejoicing,
because of the marvels the Lord worked for us,
because of all the weeds who became wheat before the harvest!