16th S. 2020: Weeds to Wheat

weedsToday’s reflection is for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 19, 2020, and the readings can be found by clicking here.

Before we get started, I’d like you to think about or come up with a few of the more famous Bible characters—that God chose as his very own, to advance Salvation history—Old Testament and New. Did you come up with Moses, King David, St. Matthew, St. Peter, or St. Paul? We’ll get back to them toward the end.

Last Sunday we saw the generosity and love of God in the Parable of the Sower. God spares no expense in distributing his Word to the whole world. This week we see that even in that good soil that Jesus spoke of, we end up with weeds. Let’s take a moment today to look at some weeds in the world, some weeds in our community, and the amazing power of God.

Now is the perfect time in this area to see some “weeds among the wheat,” though not wheat of course, it’s corn-growing season. Just on the way to Mass today I passed a number of corn fields. Every one of them had both weeds and corn. And so it is with people in our world.

Imagine that the field Jesus talked about today is the whole world. That would mean there is a field with approximately 7.8 billion plants—some weeds, some wheat. Who are the weeds? They are those who seek to rob us of our joy, of our treasure, and maybe even our life. Weeds are those who violate God’s commandments, have no respect for themselves, nor fear of God. Scripture refers to them as evil-doers. They lie, they cheat, they steal. They use profanity, get drunk, do drugs, vandalize communities, and scandalize their families.

And who are the wheat? The wheat are those who live God’s commandments to love Him and their neighbor. They worship, pray, fast, sacrifice, and give generously to those in need. They are kind to others, use kind words, are quick to give praise, and slow to anger. They do not drink to excess, uphold the law, and raise their children to respect authority and to grow in holiness. That’s awesome!

Wouldn’t it be just amazing if there were no weeds at all? Imagine for a moment what that world would look like. That would be a beautiful world indeed. As Jesus’ disciples, we strive, with God’s grace to create that world, but how? In the parable today, with great zeal, the servants, upon realizing there were weeds in their master’s field, offered to go out and rip them out! But the Master, who represents God, says, “no, let them grow together, and at the end of time the weeds will be separated and burned.” What?! Live together…with the weeds!

Like it or not, the message is clear: while on this earth, there will be both evil doers and lovers of God. There will be some who create and raise up, and there will be those who seek to destroy and tear down…and that’s just the way it is. It’s the way it has always been, and clearly, God is just, and will deal with evil doers, and they will receive their punishment—count on that. Hope on that. Believe that.

But I believe there’s a bit more to the story. Do you know anyone who is all bad, or even anyone who is all good? I certainly don’t. I know a lot of people who live in a way that is contrary to God’s law, but there is still good in them. Similarly, I know a lot of Church goers and God-lovers, who more often than they would like to admit, keep poor company, are selfish with their wealth, have a negative attitude, do not pray, receive the sacraments regularly, nor love as they ought. It doesn’t really seem as simple as weeds or wheat. In fact, it’s almost as though each of us are still a little bit of both.

In this very community, look around (okay, don’t look around), there are none who are pure wheat—myself included. This parable is not just about the state of the world, it’s about the state of the Church. And some of God’s servants, motivated by their love for their master, would seek to purify the church. Tear out those whose actions and attitudes are not those of the Lord’s, but if that were to happen, who would be left? Would you still be here? Would I? And this is the miracle of God, that God is the great transformer. God transforms weeds into wheat. That’s amazing!

From the moment of our conception, born into sin and into a world of sin,  through baptism we are healed one step at a time throughout our life. Eventually, and over time, we respond to God’s invitation and begin to grow in holiness. And this is the amazing gift of God, and the reason that we do not uproot the weeds—we are the weeds…but also the wheat. From the moment of our birth God is transforming us and saving our soul.

From the Psalms today, “Lord, turn toward me, and have pity on me; give your strength to your servant.” And so, we who are sinners and weeds have reason to hope. God is at work in us, transforming us, and saving us. Our destiny is not for the burn pile, but for the barn—the glory of heaven.

Moses was a murderer, King David an adulterer, Matthew a tax collector, Peter a denier, and St. Paul a killer. And yet they are the heroes of our faith, the wheat in God’s field. God is in the business of transformation—in us, in the Church, and in the World. So be gentle and loving this week, and see in every weed, the wheat that God sees and loves. We do not pull weeds, we pray for transformation of souls. Amen?

For YouTube video presentations of this and other reflections, please click here.

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