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Homilies/Reflections

LEARNING THE PATIENCE OF GOD. A reflection for the 16th Sunday of the Ordinary Time, Year A.
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sat, 18 Jul 2020

Readings: Wisd12: 13,16-19; Rm 8:26-27; Mt13:24-43

From the story of the sower told last Sunday, today’s Gospel reading continues with the parable of the farmer sows good seeds” while the enemy arrives later and sows “bad seeds.” Wheat is a good seed, and the farmer has high expectations. The darnel is the bad seed that has no use for the farmer, but compets with the wheat for the nutrient of the fields.

   In Semitic dialogue patterns, parables are usually not interpreted. The listeners have ears, and to understand parabolic stories using the grain of common sense is the welcome gait of good listeners. Together with the parable of the sower, this is the only other illustrative story whose significance and meaning Jesus provides in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus makes clear that the story borders on how “the kingdom of heaven compares. That is, what the reign of God demands from the persons wishing to align their lives with it: hard work, understanding, and forbearance. Had the Gospel writer not doubled down on this emphasis, many, even now, might conclude differently. At face value, one could think of it as a story of wheat and weeds, or of the farmer and the crops alone.

   The “wheat” and the “weed” many times look alike. The use of the Greek “zizanion” suggests this reading since it underlines a poisonous, drought-resistant grass almost of the same appearance with the young wheat plant. Matthews also names it as “darnel.”  The sleek posture of the planter of the weed is also instructive, for the enemy comes at a vulnerable time to plant the weed – “while everyone was asleep” (Mt 13:25). Jesus did only explain the storyline because his disciples asked him. He repeated it because the parable applied to them and does to us today. An unrelenting tendency of the audience of a challenging story is to misapply its lesson by first shifting the application to others or a third party outside ourselves.

    Reading Jesus’ illustrative story for today helps us, and replies to all of us who are readily scandalized by disappointments. The lesson of the parable addresses us who often know of “fact-based” solutions to every evil in the world. Or who deny the operation of the will of God as the fact-based reality for our world. God addresses us who are quick to lose faith and lose grip because frequently, good and evil are present in persons or institutions billed for God’s glory. Jesus declares God’s awareness of the presence of good and evil, wheat, and darnel in the world. Above all, Jesus surprises us more by pointing out that God is prepared to wait until harvest time. Knowing that conversion is possible, God is waits and hopes.

    Those who try to pursue excellence only by their standards, or seek to entrench the secular standards, forget to imbibe also the standards of God. When we tune our eyes only to faults, mistakes, crimes, and sins, the sight turns us away from the patience, tolerance, and dialogue that the word of God expouses for building up the person as an individual or the people as communities. In always seeking to point out blames, pull up dirt and apportion judgments, how so often we neglect the more primary duties of God’s hallow, and our charges to the dignity of personal example. We neglect to seek the help of the Holy Spirit through prayer.

  To help us further understand the wisdom of God, today’s first reading provides us a leeway into how God exercises power. This reading points us to God, who alone is perfect and all-powerful. God’s sovereignty founded on strength, rules over all. Yet, God’s judgment is patient, mild, and lenient with people in their struggles in the world.  To make better choices and live wisely in the world is a value which could come with several failed tries. Despite the weeds mixing with the wheat, and against the works of the enemy, God trusts humanity.

 

 

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