Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Often we think of God as a frightening judge. In the parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus paints a different picture of God. He presents God as compassionate, patient and as one who never gives up hope on anyone.
When we look at the world we see both good and evil. Then we are tempted to ask: why does God not do anything about the evil around us? Does he not see?
Yes, he sees. He sees much more than we are able to see. And it is precisely because he is able to see, that he acts as he does. Is 55:8 says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.”
The story is told of a journalist who wanted to interview a famous spiritual master. When he reached the ashram he met one of his disciples. And the journalist asked the disciple: Is it true that your master is a genius. And the disciple said, Yes. What makes him a genius. His ability to see. His ability to see what?
His ability to see a butterfly in a worm, a eagle in an egg, and a saint in a sinner.
We see. But we do not see as God sees. So the parable of the wheat and the weeds tells us:
- Do not judge: A student may fail in an exam. This does not necessarily mean that he is lazy. He may have an alcoholic father who gives him to peace to study. In Acts 15:8 we are told that only God sees the heart. We cannot see the heart, the intentions of people. So, we shall refrain from judging people.
- Be patient: God knows that some people who are evil now may become good eventually. We have the case of the good thief who got converted at the last moment of his life. As long as persons are alive there is a possibility for them to change. So, we wait patiently, giving them the time needed to change themselves. We do not give up hope about anyone.
- Leave the punishment to God: The workers in the parable ask the master: “Shall we go and gather up the weeds and burn them.” The reply of the master is, “At the end of times, the Son of Man will send his angels to collect the weeds.” It is not our work to collect the weeds. It is the work of the “angels.” In other words, we are not the ultimate arbitrators of justice. We may use different means to correct people. But we leave it to God to reward or punish people according to his wisdom. In Rome 12:19 we are told: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
- Go on doing good: We should not be discouraged by the evil we see around us. Our mission is to bear fruit, abundant fruit, as we are told in Jn 15:8. When the place gets filled with wheat, there will be no space there for weeds to grow. So, one way to destroy evil is to do much good.
- Recognize the presence of the Devil. There is a tendency in many people to live as if the devil does not exist. The parable of the weeds tells us that the evil one does exist. And he works havoc in the lives of people. Pope Francis tells us that it is not old-fashioned to talk about the devil in the 21s century, because the devil is here, he is present in the 21st We need to be ready to fight him.
- Be open to let God teach you: We are told that the disciples did not understand the parable of the wheat and the weeds. So, they asked Jesus to explain it to them. There are many things about life, about the ways of God that we do not understand. Then we need to turn to God, to Jesus. And Jesus will teach us. In Lk 24: 27 we are told that Jesus interpreted the Scriptures for the disciples on the way to Emmaus, and in 24:45 we are told that Jesus opened the minds of the apostles to understand the scriptures. Let us place ourselves at the feet of the Master. And he will teach us to see as God sees.