16th Sunday of the Year
WIS 12:13 & 16-19; ROM 8:26-27; MT 13:24-43 (Year A)
The parables of the Kingdom, understood as a personal examination of individual lives, are both challenging and encouraging.
We are that field in which the Lord sowed good seed, and yet, as sinners, we must confess that the outcome of that sowing is blighted in us, just as the wheat was blighted with darnel. In humility we must ask ourselves the question posed by the owner’s servants: “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?”
As the servants identified the darnel infesting the harvest, so must we confess the selfishness that corrupts our hearts. To confess our selfishness is one thing. To overcome that selfishness, even with the grace of God, takes longer. We can take heart from the restraint of the owner who, trusting in the outcome of the harvest, left the darnel and wheat to grow side by side. The failing had been identified, and its final separation consigned to the harvest.
Throughout our lives we struggle not only with our own failings, but also with the failings of others. As the Lord of the harvest trusted in the good wheat growing in his mixed harvest, let us rejoice in the good that is to be found in ourselves and others.
Let us bring our failings to the Lord, trusting that, through the grace of repentance, his goodness will triumph in our hearts. Then, with him, we shall gladly surrender ourselves to his purifying love.
The parables of the Kingdom are also encouraging. God’s presence within us is likened to the diminutive mustard seed and hidden yeast. Such parables are grounded in a sense of powerlessness that so often threatens faith. We will often feel powerless to change either ourselves or the world in which we live. Such helplessness brings us to confess that we are changed, not by ourselves but by the grace of God hidden in our hearts. The power of his presence, though diminished within us, can never be doubted.
Finally, let us judge ourselves, and our world, with the compassion that runs throughout these parables. Let us heed Wisdom’s instruction: “By acting thus you have taught a lesson to your people how the virtuous man must be kindly to his fellow men, and you have given your sons the good hope that after sin you will grant repentance.”
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