HOMILY FOR THE 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A (July 23, 2023)
From weed to wheat
1. Summary of ideas of the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time year A readings
Today’s 1st reading, —which speaks of God’s clemency and permits repentance from one’s sins (Wis 12:13, 16–19)— and Gospel (Mt 13:24–43) —with the parable of the good grain and the weed—, are a wake-up call to fight against the temptation into which we often fall, that of being the judge of others, excluding them from the kingdom of heaven.
- We often forget that God permits and grants the wonderful gift of repentance from one’s sins.
- And we also forget that the Lord will return at the end of time during which it will be clear who the wheat is —the just who will inherit God’s eternal life—, and who the weeds are (those who, out of their own choice, have chosen in their life, to live for themselves, resulting to an eternal life of condemnation). During his 2nd coming, God will be the only and sole Judge of the entire humanity.
In the meantime, while we are in our earthly pilgrimage, let us ask God to help us renounce sin and strive for daily conversion: Graciously draw near to your people, we pray, O Lord, and lead those you have imbued with heavenly mysteries to pass from former ways to newness of life. (Prayer after Communion). For God is gracious and merciful (Psalm) and His Spirit comes to our aid to help us in our weakness and intercedes for us ineffable groanings (2nd reading, Rom 8:26–27).
2. God’s grace and man’s correspondence can transform the weed into wheat.
Today’s 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time year A Gospel recounts three parables: that of the good grain and the weeds, the mustard seed and the leaven.
- The Parable of the WHEAT AND THE WEEDS reminds us that good and evil persons live together in this present life.
- The presence of evil in the world will only be eradicated during the last judgement. However, this doesn’t mean that we have to be passive before evil and join the bandwagon. Rather, far from being discouraged and putting our trust in the Lord, we must persevere in doing good and strive to drown evil with an abundance of good out of love for God and our neighbor.
- It also reminds us that though in the natural plane, weeds cannot become and cannot change into wheat; in the supernatural plane, however, with God’s grace and a person’s correspondence, weeds can become wheat. Remember St. Mary Magdalene, the good thief, and St. Augustine?
- They and many saints led very sinful lives but because God, who is forgiving, merciful, and patient, grants the grace of repentance for one’s sins, they have fought against evil, allowing God to work in their soul, and arrived at holiness.
- The 1st reading, the Psalm and the Gospel confirm this: “Neither is there any god besides you, whose care is for all men…. For your strength is the source of righteousness, and your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all” (Wis 12:13, 16). And so does Psalm 86 : “You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you” (v.5)
- Hence, we must refrain from the error of condemning anyone or making harsh judgments, but rather, with prayer, sacraments and good deeds, we must try to gain souls for Christ.
- The MUSTARD SEED in the parable not only represents the Gospel sown by Christ, and His Church, but also each one of us who are called to live our faith and be a source of good doctrine and example, and of consolation to others as the mustard tree providing a home to the birds.
- The idea presented above is also illustrated in next parable: the LEAVEN which is like yeast that makes dough rise, represents the individual Christian, who, in their journey through life, is called to be a positive influence in the world they live in, so that Christ can have a significant impact on many people’s lives. If every Christian lives according to their faith, his life will have a noticeable positive effect on society.
- We are aware that during our important mission in the world, we face different adversaries, specifically the devil, our own selves, and a worldly lifestyle.
- This demands that we must struggle daily and go against the grain with the help of God’s grace, knowing that God and the good will ultimately have the last say in the world. At the same time, we must try to be forgiving and non-judgmental: only God could judge without error what is within the heart of each person.
Dear brethren in Christ, we should not be discouraged if we find evil in us and around us. While we are in the world, we must be vigilant so as not to be contaminated by the weeds sown by the devil in our society: customs, ideas, conduct which are not compatible with our Catholic faith must be constantly rejected by living our faith daily.
Let us seek union with God and respond to His call to holiness and apostolate to be a source of joy, solace and consolation to others who are lost, and a fount of salvation, bringing souls to Christ, through perseverance in doing what is good; prayer, good example, friendship and apostolate.
Let us not fall into the trap of condemning people. Only God could do that. Rather, may we have the daily habit to pray for the conversion of many people, and for the salvation of the dying so that they may have the grace of repentance and return to God, thus undergoing a transformation from weed to good grain, from darnel to wheat.
Let us ask God, through our Lady, Refuge of sinners and Help of Christians safely bring us to our heavenly port so that with you and all the saints, we may adore, praise and glorify God for ever.
A Blessed Sunday and week ahead,
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo.
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