2014-07-20, 16th A, The Dichotomy of Life

Homily 07-20-14
Sixteenth Sunday Ordinary Time, A
Wis 12:13, 16-19; Ps 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16; Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43

(Scriptures included after homily)

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In maybe, a little ’round about’ way, Jesus gives us the answer to a question, today, that we all seem to ask at some point in our lives . . .

Why does God allow bad things
to happen to good people?”

 The answer, Jesus said, is “If you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat along with them.”  So, “Let them grow together until harvest.”

stoningYou see, God is well aware that there are lots of weeds among us.  And they come with names like: terror, oppression, slavery, abortion, hatred, revenge, and even cancer.  And we might notice, that all of those weeds or evils are the actions, and not the people who are afflicted with causing them.

It’s funny how, we tend to label people by their actions and then judge, convict, condemn and eliminate them, without ever considering the impact of that judgment on ourselves or others.

Let’s look at cancer as an example.  Even though we’ve gotten much better at extending the lives of cancer victims, uprooting and eliminating the cancer cells cannot be accomplished without damaging some of the healthy cells as well, or without missing some of those hidden cancer cells within us.  You see, God did not plant the seeds of cancer, nor does He sow the seeds of evil in people’s hearts.

But He does plant the seeds of Goodness
in every one of us.

And He gives ALL of us a Choice:

We can either devote our lives to seeking out, our definition of evil in other people, and then eliminate them, just as the Pharisees did with Jesus.  And, IF we make this choice, then once our world is finally cleansed (of all those “evil people”), we’ll eventually find ourselves, very lonely!  OR, we can devote our lives to finding that ‘Seed of Goodness’ in others, no matter how un-developed it may be, and then Nurture it, despite the evil.

In the process, what we’ll actually end up doing, is transforming lives to grow into a whole Community of Goodness.

You see, these choices are what we call “The Culture of Death,” versus “The Culture of Life.”  And in making that choice, we might ask ourselves, “Which one sounds more like it will result in a Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus told us that, “The Kingdom of Heaven IS among us.”   And all we need, is to use our ears to hear it, and our eyes to see it.

He said it’s like a tiny mustard seed of Goodness, that we can help grow into a huge community of Goodness, within ourselves and with others – a Church, if you will.

He described God’s Kingdom like a tiny bit of bad fungus, that we call yeast or leaven.  He said that when this is added to a good and pure batch of flour, it is converted into Goodness itself.  And the good Flour is then made even better, as they both grow together.

It reminds us of the way in which the destructive persecutions of Saul, were converted into the evangelizing leadership of St. Paul, which resulted in the enormous growth of the early Church.  Of course this shows us how – even people possessed with ‘badness’
can be converted into doing Good for the benefit of everyone.

WheatDarnelWhen we look at the weeds in Jesus’ parable today, we come to find that they were not the obvious thistles or dandelions, that could easily be extracted before they got too big.  These were really, semi-poisonous plants called darnel, that looked just like the wheat in their early stages of growth.  They were insidious, sneaky and dangerous, just like Sin is in our lives.  It creeps in and convinces us that it all sounds pretty good, until we become so immersed in its ‘badness’, that it affects, not only us, but everyone else.

kidney cancer cellsAnd by then, the roots of that evil, just like the roots of the darnel among the wheat, and just like the cells of the cancer in our bodies become so entangled together that there is no way to extract it without harming the good part as well, without harming us.

Why, we ask, does God allow bad things
to happen to good people?

He does it, so that He could Save ALL of us.

You see, God loves everyone so very much, that He wants to give ALL of us, every possible chance to repent, to thrive, and to live forever, just as we could and should, with one another.

compassionAnd all those ‘Good people’ who suffer injustice in the process ? . . .

They will undoubtedly receive their ‘Eternal Reward’, just as Jesus promised.

Jesus tells us, that God is the ultimate Judge.  In the end, we will all be judged with leniency and with justice.

But, as for now, we are not called to be destroyers, but nurturers.  And with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will find that we can all live together, building a Kingdom for God, and converting souls, through our Love.

jmp 07-20-14
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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 07-20-14
The Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

First ReadingWis 12:13, 16-19

There is no god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned. For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.  For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.

But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you.  And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.

Responsorial Psalm; Ps 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16

R. Lord, you are good and forgiving
You, O LORD, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you. Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading.
R.
All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O LORD, and glorify your name. For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds; you alone are God.
R.
You, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity. Turn toward me, and have pity on me; give your strength to your servant.
R.

Second Reading:  Rom 8:26-27

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.  And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

Gospel:  Mt 13:24-43

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.”’”

He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field.  It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.  It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.

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.”

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