16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)



Matthew 13: 24-43                                                 July 23, 2017

“You gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.”

A farmer struggles with the wicked action of an enemy who sowed weeds in his wheat. Rather than immediately pull the weeds up, the planter lets them grow together until harvest time. His thought is, “If you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat along with them.”

Most parables told by Jesus are not exactly based on religious themes, but Jesus uses situations grounded on everyday life. Today´s Gospel is a good example of activities built in real life: a farmer who sowed good seed in his field, and when he was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the field. The second parable is about a mustard seed, that being the smallest of all the seeds, yet when sowed and grown it became the largest of plants, to the point that the birds came and made nets in its branches. The third parable is the yeast that a cook took and mixed it with three measures of wheat flour until the whole mass was leavened.

These parables are not religious stories. Jesus´ listeners have to make the metaphorical leap and grasp the religious meaning. Jesus, as a good teacher, uses these images to compare them with the kingdom of heaven. By telling the story of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus catches his disciples out of base and teaches them an important lesson that concerns to all of us, about hypocrisy and intolerance.

If we humans are quick to blame, judge, and condemn other people for their actions, even if they are evil, in our Biblical readings today we hear that God does the opposite: the Book of Wisdom tells us that God judges justly, and with compassion, “Though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us (…) and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.” The responsorial psalm echoes these feelings, “You, O Lord, are good and forgiving (…) slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.” God deals with us with the two qualities of justice and mercy.

In the Gospel Jesus calls our attention to the point of the parable: the imperfect state of the Reign of God in its current reality; and God gives opportunities for conversion. The three parables are based on the Palestinian culture. The allegory of the wheat points out the coexistence of good and evil. The mustard seed and the yeast exemplify the significant growth of the disciples, and show the universalism of salvation. Since weeds look like wheat in the early development, so it is wise to separate them until the time of harvest. Here is an image of the end time, and final retribution.

We know that there are times when we as citizens and Christians must take political, religious and moral actions against some issues; Jesus is not supporting a passive approach to life. But if we condemn evil, we should not condemn the people. Jesus did condemn sin, but never condemned the sinner.

We cannot naively think that our Church, the spouse of Christ is completely spotless, even though Christ, her head and bridegroom, is holy. Let us accept that the Church is made up of human beings, that is, of sinners but in continuous process of conversion. We cannot be scandalized, although it hurts, to know, that even the good Christians are majority and widespread in the world, there is no doubt that the weeds are present in all levels of our communities, and they will remain until the harvest. As long as the evil is present, there is a chance and need of change, and the Church is an instrument of God´s mercy and call to conversion. For this we should pray, although sometimes we do not know how, but “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought.”

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