Fr Vincent's reflections on the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Why does God allow sin and evil to plague our world? Wouldn’t life be better if God just got rid of everything that is bad for us? Our ways are not always God’s ways.
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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Message 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:
Show favor, O Lord, to your servants
and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace,
that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,
they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As before, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along. The Gospel today is Matthew 13:24-43. Now, I will only be reading the first of the parables in today’s Gospel, and the explanation Jesus gives at the end. The middle parables, you can read on your own.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
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.”’”
. . . . . . . . . . . .
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.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Just about everyone likes a good story with a lot of images that stir the mind and the imagination. Even if you have never been in a field of wheat, you can likely imagine what it looks like from photos you’ve seen, or movies/videos of people sowing and reaping. You likely know the difference between good plants and weeds, and you can imagine the farmer planting wheat and his enemy coming at night to sow weeds. You can certainly imagine a fire that burns up all the weeds. So, we, like those who first heard Jesus’ parable, we can picture in our mind right along as Jesus speaks exactly what he wants us to see.
As the story goes on, with a little more thinking, we can likely imagine the servants wanting to pull up the weeds quickly – why? Because in Jesus’ location, water was scarce and precious, and the weeds would take water away from the wheat, making their growth less than optimum. It makes sense to get rid of the weeds as soon as possible. Even here, farmers try to rid the cane fields of weeds to be sure their crop yield is the best it can be. So, we should be surprised that Jesus has the farmer leave the weeds alone. You see – every parable has a surprise twist that leads to the unexpected conclusion. This makes it more memorable for the listener.
So, the farmer saying, “Let them (wheat and weeds) grow together until harvest,” is a surprise for Jesus’ listeners, and it should be for us. It is to answer the nagging question so many believers have: why does God allow sin and evil to exist in this world, and good people to suffer because of bad people?
Jesus is teaching that human reasoning is not the same as God’s thinking – recall he says almost those exact words elsewhere. The parable teaches that God is in charge; He knows what He is doing; and we can trust that no matter what we as good people suffer in this world, at the end, God will reward goodness and punish evil. This is a parable of hope in the midst of difficulty. It truly is a parable for today and all we are going through in our world right now, from the pandemic, to social injustice, to economic crisis. The devil wants us to give up our faith, but we need to learn that God is with us, even if unseen. Keeping faith, doing the best we can, is what God expects. We will be rewarded if we persevere and remain faithful. If we allow the weeds to dominate our lives, then we will be lost just like they are in the end. Jesus promises to gather his faithful into the glory of heaven.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.