Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Readings: Wis 12:13,16-19; Rom 8:26-27; Matt 13:24-43

The metaphor of the wheat and the weeds left to grow together till harvest is the key to understanding the message Jesus proclaims this Sunday. He proclaims a kingdom of forgiveness, compassion, justice and tolerance. The readings help us to discover our God who is full of mercy and forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we can do especially to an enemy. Yet there are many examples of extraordinary courage in forgiveness. On May 13, 1981 Pope John Paul II, was shot in the abdomen and on his hand by an attempt assassin, shortly after the Wednesday General Audience on St. Peter’s Square, when the Pope’s car drove by. As he was being rushed to the hospital the Pope forgave his would be assassin. On December 27, 1983 Pope John Paul II visited Ali Agca in his prison cell in Rome, and personally forgave him as they sat face to face. In this unusual act of forgiveness, the Pope gives us a great example of forgiveness. In the First Reading from the Book of Wisdom we hear that God governs with great lenience. When we repent of our sins, God always forgives us. Psalm 86 picks up that theme in a beautiful prayer: “Lord you are good and forgiving”. In Gospel Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, Jesus reveals to us the mystery of the Kingdom, which is compared to a person who planted wheat, and while asleep, some enemies came and sowed weeds. These weeds look very much like wheat as they grow.

What is the kingdom of Heaven that Jesus speaks about? The Kingdom Jesus reveals to us must not be understood as a place up in the sky. Rather this Kingdom is a state of being in which God rules and God's values prevail. Jesus in many ways lived and taught about these values. In the parable, Jesus powerfully communicates these values, namely forgiveness, compassion, justice, a sense of solidarity and inclusiveness of all human beings God has created in his image and likeness. That is why the kingdom of heaven is compared to a farmer who sowed good seed and while asleep an enemy sawed weeds. The image of the farmer leaving both the wheat and the weeds to grow up together till harvest is the key to understanding how God deals with us. Jesus challenges us to be like his Father: patient, lenient and tolerant with sinners, letting the wheat continue to grow among the weeds until the harvest. Who knows, the sinner may be touched by God's grace and repent? Who knows, between now and harvest time the non-believer might be led to the fullness of the truth in ways known to God alone. The Kingdom of God therefore is always a mixed bag of those in communion with God, and those who are not; those who have remained faithful and those led astray by the evil one. It is tragic that often times we deal with this ‘mixed-bag’ situation by judging others while justifying ourselves. Like the farmer in the Gospel, we must leave judgment to God till the end. We must leave all to grow side by side till harvest time. The parable also reminds us that we must be as tolerant as our heavenly Father who is always forgiving. We celebrate God's mercy by letting God to do the judging at the end of time. What message do we take home today? 1) Because the Kingdom of God is a mixed bag of both the good and the bad, we are challenged to be tolerant, compassionate and forgiving like our God; 2) Jesus in the parable warns that we must not take God’s tolerance as license to do what we want for there are consequences in the end –the harvest time. 3) We pray that God may give us the grace of his loving mercy and forgiveness, especially through the Sacrament of reconciliation.

©2017 John S. Mbinda

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