Friday, July 15, 2011

7/17/2011 – 16th Sunday of ordinary time – Matthew 13: 24 - 43

Today, we hear another parable from Jesus about sowing seeds.  Last week, we heard about the sower who scattered seed in different places: on rocky ground, among the thorns, & in fertile soil.  Today, we hear about two sowers who have very different motives.  The farmer sows good seed in his field, preparing for a bountiful harvest, while his enemy sows weeds amongst the wheat, hoping to destroy & sabotage what the farmer has planted.
Biblical scholars claim that Matthew was talking about a weed called darnel, a very common destructive weed in Israel that resembles wheat.  When wheat & the darnel grow next to each other as small plants, they look exactly alike.  The farmer can only tell the difference between them when they become mature plants & when the grain start to form. 
What’s wonderful about Jesus’ parables is that they’re rather simple on the surface, but they give us a lot of rich teachings when we delve into them & break them open.  In today’s parable, the servants ask the master if he wants them to pull up the weeds & get rid of them, but the master warns them that if they try pulling them up, they’ll uproot the wheat, destroying the harvest.  The master wants to allow the wheat & the weeds to grow together in the field, not separating them until harvest time.  It’s interesting that the parable doesn’t tell us if the master’s judgment was correct, if this ended up as the right decision for a successful harvest.
As we reflect upon this parable, we might ask ourselves what Jesus’ goal could be in telling about the weeds & the wheat.  If we assume that the master’s judgment was right & provided for a bountiful harvest, today’s parable might be trying to assure us that the wheat will survive the attack of the weeds sown by the enemy, that the forces of good in the world will survive the forces of evil.  We’re called to trust in the Lord, to trust the Lord’s judgment in the end times, to trust in his ability to do the separating of the wheat from the weeds when that time comes.
You know, we live in a modern world today where intolerance & judgment are so pervasive.  Even within our own Church, sometimes we might think that there is only one way of being a true Catholic.  We might want everyone else to live out our Catholic faith the same way we live it out.  We might be unwilling to listen to other voices within our Church that are perhaps a bit different than our own.  Perhaps we don’t want to recognize the diverse ways our Catholic faith is expressed & lived out in the world.  When you go to mass in a different culture or in a different part of our country, the mass is very recognizable even if you don’t know the language, even though there are different styles & approaches that give a unique flavor to the mass.  The same could be said about the different ways we will out our faith based upon different cultures, personalities, & interests.  We are all recognizably Catholic, but there is also a diversity of expression within the realm of Catholicism. I remember that as a seminarian up in Milwaukee, I was sitting around the table at lunch in the cafeteria with several other seminarians, when one of them told me that the missionaries were the main problem in our Church, that we were not loyal to the pope & that we did not properly follow what our Church teaches.  Well, you all know that I have the heart of a missionary, how my missionary work has really influenced my faith journey. I remember being speechless, not knowing what to say or how to respond.  I know first-hand the many sacrifices missionaries make as they live in very challenging circumstances to bring the word of God to the world & to serve the poorest of the poor.  Here I was being told that we missionaries are not loyal to the Church!   In seminary I learned how important it was for all of us to tell our stories, to share our faith & our experiences of God. I realized that I had to share my missionary experiences with others in order from to hear about this important part of our Catholic faith.  But I also I want to be clear in what I am saying today – this does not mean that we can practice our Catholic in any old way we want to without any regard to the doctrines of our faith or in disobedience to our Church leaders.  But this does mean that there are different ways to live out are faith in the realm of the Church, that we all have different gifts & experiences that have a big impact on our faith.

Being open to different facets of our faith & learning to grow in the ways we see God are perhaps connected to the attributes that are prescribed to God in our 1st reading from the book of Wisdom, attributes that we are called to emulate & practice in our lives.  The book of Wisdom sees God’s justice & leniency coming from his power & mastery & strength – quite a paradox, isn’t it?  Wisdom sees God governing us & judging us in justice, in clemency, in kindness.  God could use his power over us in a very heavy-handed way, but he doesn’t.  He calls us to trust in his love & mercy, to respect him & honor him, not in a fearful way, but in a healthy, loving way.  And showing that same sense of justice mercy, love & respect in the way we interact with our neighbors, in the way we live out our Catholic faith in the great diversity of expression that exist – that is what we are called to do. Perhaps you were not expecting this message in today’s homily, which reflects the richness & beauty of the parables that Jesus give us in his teachings & ministry.  As we live out the spirit of the Eucharist in our lives, as we are nourished by the body & blood of Christ, as Christ lives within us in this very special way, may we marvel & respect the rich diversity that exists within our Catholic faith.  That is truly a way for the Eucharist to have an affect on our lives.  

1 comment:

  1. Great Homily, Fr. Lincoln. You are a very good homilist. I enjoy them every week. Thanks for all you do for our parish.