Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - 2020

Homily for Sunday, July 19, 2020

YEAR A

 

Do you ever wonder why God acts the way God does in our world?

A man was suffering from a serious attack of appendicitis.

He hated going to the doctor but his wife insisted that he do so.

The doctor arranged for an operation.

Still in pain - and still protesting the idea of an operation,

He said to the doctor, “When God gave people an appendix -there must have been a  reason for putting it in our bodies.”

“Oh, there was,” said the doctor.  “God gave you that appendix so I could put my children through college.”

 

Remember Jesus’ parable last Sunday.

The different kinds of soil represented the different kinds of people –who heard God’s word.

Today’s parable turns it around.

Here - the soil is the world or the Church – and in that soil – all kinds of things or people grow: wheat & weeds

We all have our own candidates for who are the weeds.

 

This story would be very familiar to the people of Palestine.

When wheat was planted and started to grow weeds would sprout too.

Their seeds were mixed with wheat and could not be distinguished at first.

Then – by the time – you could distinguish them from wheat their roots were so entangled that if you tried to remove the weeds the wheat was pulled up as well.

The farmer had to let them grow together.

But at harvest time – he had to separate them because that kind of weed was toxic. 

 

 

Jesus is telling us to learn a lesson about God  - the Church and the world from all of this.

Like the farmer in the story – our God is a patient God.

That’s what the first reading from the Book of Wisdom teaches:

Though you are the master of might

you judge with clemency

and with much leniency you govern us.  

Often – we are tempted to want it to be otherwise.

We want God to punish swiftly – surgically - and severely.

But do we really want our God to be quick on the draw?

We can all look back into our own lives at the times we sinned – drifted, and did wrong.

It’s a comfort to know that our God is not as impulsive as we are –

          that God is patient.

At the end, there will be a judgment  - a reckoning for everyone.

People can slip through our justice system –

          but they cannot slip through God’s justice -

                   and his judgment is unmistakably fair and final.

 

Because that judgment is final – God will sometimes give us

          in our life early warning signs.

Those warnings and corrections are - moments of grace

          and signs of His love.

It’s important to remember

          that our God is a God of the second chance -

           and all of us at some time have desperately needed that second chance.  

 

The parable also teaches us a truth about the Church.

All kinds of wheat abound in the Church – but there are also weeds.

The Church is a mixed bag – it always was - and always will be.

We are not the Church of the perfect.

 

There was a group - centuries ago - called the Donatists –

          that wanted only the perfect in the Church.

And that tendency appears again - from time to time - in the Church.

Some say,

          “Wouldn’t it be great - to weed out the Church from time to time?”

A Church comprised of saints might be a nice Church –

          but it wouldn’t be Christ’s Church.

As one writer put it, the Church is not only a gallery

          for the display of Saints -  

           it is also a school - for the transformation of sinners.

While we have life – our souls are not finished products

          and we are not finished Christians. 

We need to be careful about coming to final judgment about others. 

None of us has an X-ray powerful enough to look into another’s soul to see what God sees there. 

St. Paul says in today’s second reading - “God alone searches hearts.”

 

The parable teaches us -not only about our patient God

          and the Church being a mixed field of wheat and weeds –

           it also teaches us about our world. 

The wheat and the weeds both grow and have power. 

Evil in our world is not just error – mistake - imperfection. 

It is a power so intense - that it is driven by a personal being –

          the Evil One.

Evil is alive.  But grace also has real power.

It too is present and growing in our world.

If we get tired of reading about the weeds –

          take time to notice the wheat

          that shows the work of grace

          and the presence of Christ in our world.

 

It’s not the violence but the acts of goodness –

          sometimes extraordinary goodness –

           that should encourage us. 

Despite the weeds in every generation - 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.

Maybe that’s the deepest point of this parable.

Besides being about the patience of God – about the Church as a help for sinners – 

this parable - in the end - teaches us not to get so distracted by the weeds that we forget the wheat among us

The Christian harvest – which is the sign of Christ’s final triumph.  The wheat – the good in our world – is the assurance –

          that there will be a harvest. 

Despite the weeds – by God’s grace – there will be a harvest. 

The question is:  will we be part of that magnificent Resurrection harvest or not.

 

 

~Father Patterson