16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
This weekend we hear the reading from the first section from Chapter 23 of St. Matthews gospel, the story is the parable of the darnel in the field the seed and the weeds. In the parable of the wheat and weeds, Jesus recognized good’s co-existence with evil. He also held out the hope that the Kingdom would right all wrongs. I think that there is the potential in each of us to be either wheat or darnel that is good and bad.
Looking back over the notable events of the Twentieth Century we are reminded that evil takes root even in the greatest good. National powers have fought two World Wars and several regional conflicts to protect the innocent. Yet, the death and destruction those struggles have produced staggers the imagination. Fighting evil seems, in a perverse way, to promote evil. It is difficult to listen to the daily stories about Syria, Israel and Gaza these days where so many innocent people are losing their lives. We are tempted to become very angry with one side or the other, or to turn away in despair. Seeing others argue and struggle can tire our hearts and minds so that we might become cynical or unkind to those around us but if we are true to ourfaith we shouldn’t hurt the people around us even though we might be tired and want to be cynical.
We often say ‘wouldn’t life be easier if everything were black and white’ as if there are ‘totally good people’ and ‘totally evil people’. Of course life is never that simple. If we are really honest nothing is ever that straightforward to be black and white. We need to ask ourselves Who are we called to be in a world where weeds and seeds grow side by side and we often find it hard to distinguish the difference between them. We are called to be the body of Christ the Church which is a church of Saints and sinners a Church of Seeds and Weeds a church in which very little is black and white but that is the life we live as faith filled people of God. As people of faith we have to constantly ask ourselves 3 questions : Should we hide from the messiness and make religion a privatized personal relationship with God? Should we insulate ourselves – sharing with those we think are worthy of our love, deciding who is worthy? Where is God in all this concern, worry and judgment? If we pray about these three questions and our problems and those of others we will see god is there in the middle of everything and his hand will guide us and as a result we will be the seeds that flourish and not the weeds.
Jesus used parables to challenge his audience to think and he uses the parables in our world of today to challenge you and me and make us think as well. The images and symbols in the stories allowed for various interpretations, depending upon the audience and their circumstances. Interpreting symbolic stories in this way is called allegory. To help relieve anxiety among his persecuted followers, Jesus told this parable as an allegory of good and evil. Obviously, Jesus recognized good and evil lived together in his time as we recognize the same today. But, when Jesus made that co-existence part of God’s Kingdom, he must have shocked his own followers. How could God allow such evil in the world? Shouldn’t God act to save his people? Why did he delay? These are questions that were asked in the time of Jesus and we still ask ourselves even in these days of rational so called clear minded thinking.
In authentic truth and charity we must speak to others and teach them about the great responsibility they have to choose either Life or Death to be weeds or seeds to be good or bad.God ‘s perfect love for us shows itself in the gift of our free will. We have the power to freely choose Him or to reject Him. Choose the Lord and His law that you may have life and live it to the full. Earlier I mentioned briefly the two world wars, in the next few weeks we remember the beginning of the First World War 100 years ago, it was known as the war to end all wars even though it was one of many and these days we think of the ongoing conflicts in many parts of the world. May we redouble of efforts to promote and pray for peace in our world, our hearts and in our minds.
May we see the seeds of the Kingdom of Heaven grow and flourish in our midst. Let us notice too that which is not fruitful or good. But with and in all Let us bring everything and everyone to God, in prayer and reflective action – trusting that God who is good will care for us and for all he has created. Our calling then is to participate as best we can in building up a world where God is King! God will decide on its membership, not us and he will guide us along the roads that lead to Salvation and he will help us to be the seeds that flourish.