Weeds among the wheat – Click link for bible verses: 20 Wheat Bible Verses
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INTRODUCTION AND CONFITEOR
16th Sunday homily invites us to reflect that the world, Jésus says, is like a field in which wheat and weeds grow side by side. The Church is the same, and so is each one of us. Each of is is a mixture of good and evil.
Let us pause for a moment to take a look into the field of our lives to see what is growing there. [(Pause]
Let us turn to Christ who alone will help us to overcome the evil that is within us.
Lord, you came to teach us the difference between good and evil. Lord, have mercy.
You are patient with us when we do evil, and you call us to repentance. Christ, have mercy.
You teach us that the heavenly Father is the final judge of people, and that he is lenient and merciful. Lord, have mercy.
HEADINGS FOR READINGS
First Reading (Wisdom 12:13.16-19). God is the only one who has both the knowledge and the power to root out evil people if he so desired. But does he? This reading talks about his leniency and how we ought to imitate it.
Second Reading (Romans 8:26-27). Sometimes when we pray to God we don’t seem to be able to find the right words to express what is in our minds. It doesn’t matter. God still understands.
Gospel (Matthew 13:24-43). The Church, and indeed the world, is like a field in which wheat and weeds grow side by side until they are separated at the harvest time. (Short form recommended).
Reading 1 WIS 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. (5a) 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. Lord, you are good and forgiving.
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. Lord, you are good and forgiving.
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. Lord, you are good and forgiving.
Reading 2 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.
Alleluia CF. MT 11:25
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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.”
Christ’s parable presents a picture of the world which even a child could grasp. Everybody knows that the world is made up of good people and bad people. It is exactly like a field in which wheat and weeds grow side by side. Yet the parable presents problems.
Is Christ saying that evil people should be given a ‘carte blanche’ to do whatever they wish? This would seem to defy common sense. The suggestion to root out the weeds would seem to make a lot more sense, and indeed it has often been tried. Hitler tried it on the Jews. Stalin tried it on his enemies. The military in Argentina tried it during their so-called ‘dirty war’ against terrorists. Though attractive, it is not a Christian solution or even a humane one.
A certain island country used to be a very peaceful place, a real nice place in which to live. But suddenly all this changed, and it became a place of trouble, confusion, fear, and unrest. The good people were very upset. They blamed the trouble on a relatively small bunch of mischief-makers. So what did they decide to do?
‘We must get rid of the troublemakers,’ they said. ‘We won’t exterminate them as they deserve. We’ll just segregate them. We’ll lump them together in a special part of the island, and put a high fence around them to keep them in. In that way they can continue to prey on one another if they so wish, but they are no longer going to prey on us.’
The site was chosen – the poorest and bleakest part of the island. Then the segregation began. It seemed a simple idea in theory. Everybody knew, or thought they did, who the troublemakers were. They were the thieves, vandals, blackguards, drug pushers, drunkards, terrorists, hijackers, abortionists, wife-heaters, child-molesters, and so on and so forth. But in practice it proved no easy matter to carry out.
People resisted. They did not want to be branded as evil. They knew what was intended. They would be cast off, rejected, and treated as lepers. Families were torn asunder, children orphaned, friends separated. But the job went ahead. So too did the building of the fence. On one side of the fence were the bad people. On the other were the good people, that is, the decent, honest, respectable, religious, law-abiding people.
NOW in the country there lived a very holy man by the name of Anthony. Anthony was greatly admired and respected by all. The good people naturally assumed that Anthony would be on their side of the fence. But he surprised and shocked them by taking up residence among the bad people.
‘Anthony, this is not right,’ the good protested. ‘Why, you of all people deserve to be on our side of the fence’.
‘You really think so?’ Anthony replied. ‘You assume that you are innocent, peace-loving and right, and that all those others are devils incarnate. Well, you’re deceiving yourselves. Your innocence is only imaginary. Who can tell who is good and who is evil? Which of us can say that there is no evil in us or that we have never done any evil? The very things you condemn in those others are in yourselves. By rejecting your brothers and sisters as beyond redemption, you have committed a great wrong. I am on this side of the fence because I too have done evil. I too am a sinner’. With these and other arguments he got them to abandon the project and dismantle the fence. ‘
The problem to which Christ’s parable was originally addressed concerned not the world as a whole but the People of God. Some people were scandalised that sinners were included among them. People like the Pharisees believed the Church should consist only of so-called good people. Sinners should be ruthlessly weeded out. But Christ did not agree. He said the Kingdom of God is a mixed bag in which sinners and saints rub shoulders. No attempt should be made to weed them out. His reasons for adopting this attitude are important for us today.
We too often act like the Pharisees. A person makes a serious mistake or commits a wrong against us, and we immediately rush to judgment. We play God. We categorise and cut off that person for ever. But this is wrong. The time for judgment is not yet. The Kingdom of God is still at the growing stage. Now is the time for conversion. People can change.
Another reason why the weeding out process is not on, is this. The world is not so simple, nor are people so simple. There is no line which you can draw which would neatly divide off the good from the bad. Any such line would go right through each human heart, for there is good and evil in every heart.
So what should we do? As far as ourselves are concerned, the best thing we can do is take a good look into the field of our own lives to see what is growing there. If we find some weeds there, as no doubt we will, there is no law against pulling them out. If we try to do so, we will discover what a painful process this is.
As far as others are concerned, we should try to act towards them as Christ acted. Isn’t it strange that the man who had no trace of weed in him could be so understanding towards those who failed to measure up, and so reluctant to weed them out? Why for instance did he not weed out Judas? And why didn’t he weed out Peter, who denied him not once but three times? He didn’t weed out Peter because he knew that he was not so much evil as weak. He saw the weeds in his life, but he saw the wheat too. He knew that with encouragement the wheat would prevail. And it did.
‘Attempts to hide the streakiness of our holy people, though sometimes successful, are always dishonest’. (Anthony de Mello).
‘Even the most honest man has stolen something in his life, but this doesn’t mean that all people are thieves’. (Dostoyevsky).
PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL
Let us pray, in the spirit of today’s parable, that while we distinguish clearly between good and evil, we may be understanding and tolerant as God is. R. Lord, hear us in your love.
That Christians may not grow discouraged by the sins and weaknesses that continue to plague their lives. [Pause] We pray in faith.
For all those in positions of authority: that in all their dealings with others they may imitate the compassion and understanding of Christ. [Pause] We pray in faith.
For prisoners, and for all those who have been uprooted and rejected, and who consequently see themselves as worthless or evil. [Pause] We pray in faith.
That we may be able to see and develop the good that is in ourselves, in other people, and in the world. [Pause] We pray in faith.
For local needs.
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, we are like seeds planted by you in the same field. Together we soak in the sun, together we sway in the wind. Grant that we may help one another to grow towards what you call us to be. Through Christ our Lord.
I learnt one great lesson from my years in prison camps.
I learnt how a person becomes evil and how he becomes good.
When I was young I thought I was infallible,
and I was cruel to those under me.
I was madly in love with power and, in exercising it,
I was a murderer and an oppressor.
Yet in my most evil moments
I thought I was doing good,
and I had plenty of arguments
with which to justify my deeds.
It was only when things were reversed,
when as a prisoner I lay on rotten straw,
that I began to feel within myself
the first stirrings of good.
Gradually I came to realise
that the line which separates good from evil
passes not between states, or between classes,
or between political parties –
but right through every human heart.
Even in hearts that are overwhelmed by evil,
one small bridgehead of good is retained.
And in the best of all hearts,
there remains an unuprooted small corner of evil.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago, Vol. II