What to do with the weeds in the wheat field...

Image of weeds among the wheat from FreshExpressions

Homily for Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
Romans 8:26-27
Matthew 13:24-43

I’ve never had to appear in court but I know that if you do,
you want to know ahead of time who the judge is
because some judges are harder on defendants than others.

I do remember that back in my school days,
I always wanted to know who my teacher was going to be
or who would teach a course I was registering for
because some teachers were harder on grading papers than others.

And many of us will remember from our youth
that for some things, it was better to go to your mother
and for other things, you went to your dad
because at different times and in different ways,
one parent might be a softer touch than the other.

In the book of Wisdom today, we find God described as
a forgiving judge,
an understanding teacher
a lenient parent who always gives a child a second chance,
and a reason to be hopeful.
Too often, too many of us have notions of God far removed,
from the picture of God Wisdom paints for us here.

We remember that God is our judge -
but easily forget that God’s beloved Son is our defense attorney,
that God’s Spirit is named our Advocate.

We remember that God is all-powerful -
but easily forget the power of his clemency, his mercy
offered to us not when, or because we’re doing good,
but rather precisely when we have failed miserably –
when we least deserve the Lord’s indulgence.

We forget that in God’s forgiveness of our sins,
what is revealed is not his anger, but rather his tender care;
the perfection of his might,
is shown in the leniency with which he judges us.

Perhaps Wisdom’s image of God
can help us understand the farmer in the gospel.
He sows good seeds but a competitor comes along
and spoils his hard work, sowing weeds in the farmer’s wheat fields.
When the wheat and the weeds sprout,
Some counsel him to pull up the weeds but, curiously,
this farmer says “No. Let the weeds be…”

He’s confident that his wheat will survive the weeds -
as God is confident that his mercy will cover our faults;
that his truth will survive our distortion of it;
that his might is most powerfully revealed
when he lifts us up in our weakness, in our “weediness
caring for us, giving us reason to hope.

The farmer is confident that his wheat will survive the weeds
just as God is confident that the smallest seed of faith,
the tiniest seed of mercy,
the most minuscule seed of truth sown in our hearts
has the potential, like a mustard seed,
to grow far beyond what we might imagine.

The farmer is confident that his wheat will survive the weeds
just as God is confident that only a little yeast,
the yeast of his Spirit in our trials,
the yeast of his counsel in our confusion,
the yeast of his love when we are dispirited
will be all we need to rise, like dough for bread,
and satisfy not only our own hunger but our neighbors’, too.

God is confident, at this table,
that just a morsel of the Bread of Life in our hands,
just a sip from the Cup of Salvation,
is enough to nourish us with the Body and Blood of his Son,
who is our defense, our second chance, our hope.

If, then, we should find weeds growing among the stalks of wheat,
let’s not try to be better farmers
than the eternal Sewer who planted the world in love.
This parable of Jesus counsels us to let the weeds be.
Our time is better spent taking care
to feast only on what is pure and true,
to drink only from the cup of goodness.
The Lord’s truth and the Lord’s Church will survive the weeds
and we will shine like the sun in the reign of God.


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