16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, July 20, 2014
Wis 12:13, 16-19 / Ps 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16 / Rom 8:26-27 / Matt 13:24-43
AFTER the parable of the sower this week we have a related parable – the wheat and the weeds. (Matthew 13:24-30). The young weed has a similar appearance to the wheat. One danger in pulling out the weed is that you might actually pull out the wheat instead. In this simple parable are many applications.
Don’t be too quick to judge
When presented with the proposal of another, don’t be too quick to condemn or think negatively of it. We should not judge so quickly. Sometimes we are quite harsh especially in judging ourselves. It is quite easy to judge yourself very fast without first listening to all the evidence from the defense. Instead we pronounce ourselves “Guilty!” without a proper trial. Often here in the Philippines the judicial process is infamous for being so long at times. So how come we are so quick to judge ourselves and thus others too? The value of respect is important especially self-respect. The root of this term means to relook at yourself again. When we see what appear to be weeds we need to go back and look again. We may discover that in fact it is a young wheat plant which if given care and attention can produce a rich harvest.
To be aware of our weak points
In modern psychology the terms consistency and inconsistency are used to describe the coherence and integrity of a person. Consistency is when all the parts are generally working together for the function of the whole and inconsistency will be when for example I have a goal (to pass an exam) but I do not put the means in place (I am lazy in my studies). In some ways we all have areas of inconsistency and we have to try to minimize their deleterious effects. If we say we will do something or pursue it, then by all means we should attempt to fulfill that good resolution. What things are still outstanding in your life? What resolution do you still need to put into practice? Seeing as we all struggle in these areas we can be grateful that God has provided us with a Helper, the Holy Spirit. St Paul reassures us that, “the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness” (Romans 8: 26-27). Yesterday I was talking to several young men who said they unsettled in their work and were not sure why. They felt more peace to know that it can also be a manifestation of the Spirit, who expresses in “inexpressible groaning” our desires to God.
If a weed is obvious get rid of it
While it is true that at times we have to take care to distinguish the wheat from the weeds it is also true that at times the weed is so obvious! One Easter I was in Australia visiting the family of some missionaries. They have a farm in the outback and were showing me around. In one moment, the dad, a farmer, slammed on the brakes of the pick-up truck, jumped out and in one flash took a swipe at a big weed bush in the middle of his crop. Before I had even got out of the truck, he had uprooted the offending herb, thrown it into the back of the truck and was climbing back in again. Wow, so agile! We need that same agility when we clearly recognize our sinfulness or wrongdoing.
All our tendencies to sin such as selfishness, greed, lying, lust, jealousy, anger, impatience and the like are the weeds that need to be dealt with in our own lives.
God is patient with us
God is the master of might but thankfully does not treat us as our transgressions deserve. As one commentator notes, “What are we going to do with the weeds in our lives? Some must be pulled up, which means a lot of death to self as we learn to say ‘no’ to the temptations in our lives. But some weaknesses cannot be pulled up even as we pray to have them taken away. We may pray to be patient, but situations arise and we find ourselves very impatient. God allows some weaknesses to remain. He knows what he is doing. If he removed all our weaknesses, we probably would not remember how much we need him” (Anawim Community reflections). God is patient with us and this reveals his mighty love for us. But it is also true that he is just and the time for harvesting will eventually come.
Let us pray and work hard! We need to maximize the yield of wheat in our lives. We need to minimize the weeds and do all we can to remove them. How lucky we are that we don’t need to wait until harvest to remove those irksome weeds—we can go to the sacrament of reconciliation even now. Amen.